Evaluating "environmental democracy" requires looking not just at the existence of laws, but their implementation.
The need is growing for public access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making and enforcement of environmental laws. Without these rights, explain WRI Managing Director Manish Bapna and UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment John Knox, people are left marginalized and powerless.
EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow, renowned environmental attorney Rizwana Hasan and others explained at a recent event why citizens' rights to information, public participation and justice are critical for sustainable development.
WRI's new Environmental Democracy Index tracks and scores 70 countries' progress in enacting national laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision-making.
Local communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America can lose access to critical resources when land rights are weak, threatening food and incomes for more than two billion people. Three fundamental goals must be achieved to improve land rights.
A recent UN report highlights the need to examine the role of development finance institutions in sustainable development, but it leaves open the question of whether member states should call for a review process.
Here’s a perspective on some of the outstanding negotiation challenges.
What is an equitable way of taking action in the context of growing emissions and climate impacts, from water scarcity and depressed agricultural yields to severe weather events?
And how can we reduce emissions and build climate resilience while taking into account varying human development needs?
Nicaragua legally recognizes 49 percent of its remaining forests as community-owned forests.
But it wasn't always this way; indigenous communities stepped up and conserved their forests in the face of government inaction.
Recent research from WRI and the Rights and Resources Initiative found that the world’s 513 million hectares of legally recognized community forests store 37 billion tonnes of carbon—29 times the annual carbon footprint of the world’s passenger vehicles.
The impacts of oil extraction in Ecuador illustrate why secure community forest rights are necessary to protect both livelihoods and the environment.
Learn more about securing community forest rights to combat climate change.
Note: The Executive Summary is also available for download in Bahasa Indonesia, German, French, Portuguese and Spanish.
Investors face growing pressure to reduce the negative environmental and social impacts of their investments. In trying to do so they are confronted with the question of how to interact with governments in the countries where they invest.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP)—which held its most recent summit about three weeks ago—has made tremendous progress in its two years of existence. The OGP, a voluntary partnership between governments and civil society, aims to make governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens. Discussions at the summit made it clear that the partnership is already demonstrating impact. Sixty-two governments have now joined OGP, making 1,115 commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
The Summit provided a real sense that there’s a growing community who really “gets” the importance of open government to meeting development goals. Yet there was still a gap in the discourse in one particular area—the environment.
Increased industrialization in Asia has created countless hurdles for communities to protect themselves from pollution. Important government information—such as the amount of pollutants being discharged by nearby factories or results from local air and water quality monitoring—still isn’t readily accessible in user-friendly formats. This practice often leaves the public entirely out of decision-making processes on issues like regulating pollution or expanding industrial factories. In many cases, the public lack the information they need to understand and shield themselves from harmful environmental, social, and health impacts.
This state of affairs recently prompted a group of government officials, NGOs, local community representatives, and academics to demand government action to change the status quo. Last week, representatives from China, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand released the Jakarta Declaration for Strengthening the Right to Environmental Information for People and the Environment. The Declaration urges governments to improve access to information on air and water quality pollution in Asia—and offers a detailed road map on how to do so.
The Declaration stemmed from a meeting organized by WRI’s the Access Initiative and the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, held last week in Jakarta. Representatives will now bring the list of findings and recommendations to government officials in their home countries and ask for commitments on increasing transparency.
I spent the recent U.N. climate negotiations in Doha trying to reconcile two injustices. The first is captured by Nicholas Stern’s “brutal arithmetic.” This is the simple, unavoidable fact that bold greenhouse gas emissions reductions will be needed from all countries to hold global temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, thus preventing climate change’s most dangerous impacts. Developing nations, many of which are battling crippling poverty and inequality at home, are being told that the traditional, high-carbon pathway to prosperity is off-limits, and that they, too, will need to embrace aggressive mitigation actions. This is a glaring injustice – the product of two decades of missed opportunities in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), inadequate domestic action in industrialized countries, and substantial geopolitical changes in major emerging economies.
But the second injustice is even greater – one that is manifest and which must be avoided. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has illustrated, breaching the 2°C threshold would seriously degrade vital ecosystems and the communities who depend on them. This, itself, is an issue of justice, as climate change undermines the realization of human rights, including the right to food, health, an adequate standard of living, and even the right to life. Those same developing countries who are home to the poorest and most vulnerable members of our global community—and who are now compelled to act on reducing emissions—will be hit first and hardest by climate change’s impacts.
With large-scale agricultural investments on the rise, the rights of local people must be protected.
After falling behind other development organizations, the World Bank now has a chance to update its environmental and social safeguard policies.
Extractive industries explore the benefits of acquiring consent for their projects.
Purpose of this Report
This report argues that human rights are an integral part of effective and sustainable development, and thus should be explicitly considered in all World Bank Group (WBG) investment decisions. We examine the WBG’s integration of human rights standards