A partnership convened by the World Resources Institute

Goodbye EDI beta, Hello EDI 1.0!

Goodbye EDI beta, Hello EDI 1.0!

By jesse.worker - September 15th, 2015

Governmental and non-governmental representatives discuss EDI at a UNEP/UNITAR event in Geneva (photo courtesy of UNEP)

 

Indices can be effective tools to promote policy change if governments and civil society engage with the results by passing laws, strengthening institutions, and implementing new practices. Whether or not this occurs depends on many factors, including the political climate of the country, the incentives that policy makers may have to take action, whether the results are perceived as accurate, and how they are communicated.

We launched EDI as a beta version in May of this year so that governments and civil society would have the opportunity to respond to any scores with which they disagreed. We did this because we understand that feedback processes are critical to metrics becoming reliable and trusted. We are happy to share the feedback we received and the decisions we made that led to score changes. While the scores are now final, the feedback continues! Governments and civil society can still submit comments on the feedback form on each country page.

Nearly every government received its results prior to the May launch and had until July 15th to submit suggested score changes. Following the launch, we received written responses from the governments of Mexico, Guatemala, Estonia, Ecuador and the Philippines. A member of the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment responded to the EDI results on a Malaysian radio show. Combined with the responses received prior to the launch, 19 governments (27% of the total) have responded thus far. WRI and its research partners reviewed all of these comments, and in some cases decided that the evidence provided was sufficient to change the score. Guatemala and Mexico’s score also increased slightly while Lithuania, Romania, and Russia’s scores fell, based on feedback received from the Aarhus Convention Secretariat and an Aarhus Compliance Committee member. You can find a summary of these score changes in Table 1 below. During the beta phase WRI also completed internal reviews of the results for China and India, in collaboration with its staff in both of those countries. These reviews raised the score for India.

We are deeply appreciative of all of those who took the time to provide feedback. Much of the feedback was insightful and commentators took considerable pains to examine the results thoroughly. We are encouraged by this type of response, which can contribute to national dialogues on environmental democracy issues. We look forward to receiving more feedback in the future. Send us specific feedback on scores using the feedback form on your country’s page, or leave general comment using the contact form.

Table 1: Summary of indicator score changes

Country

Feedback source

Indicator

Previous Score

New Score

Reason for change

Guatemala

Procurador de los Derechos Humanos

2.4) To what extent does the law require publicly available information and advice on how to obtain environmental information?

 

3

0

Article 20 paragraph 2 of the Law on Access to Public Information (LAIP) does not require  the Public Information Unit to publicize guidance on accessing environmental information

 

3.2) To what extent does the law require environmental information that is covered by a ground for refusal to be severed (separated) from the rest of the information before being released to the requester?

 

0

3

Environmental information is not included in the restricted information (confidential or proprietary). Article 42 paragraph 3 of the LAIP does provide for partial disclosure

4.1) To what extent are competent public authorities mandated by law to regularly collect and update relevant environmental information?

 

1

0

While the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources is required by law to produce a State of the Environment Report, there are no specific requirements about the type of information that must be collected or what must be publicized.

 

18.1) To what extent does the law recognize broad legal standing in proceedings concerned with environmental matters?

 

1

2

The Law on Protection and Improvement of the Environment provides for broad standing, however under other laws such as the Health Code and the Law on Protected Areas, only those that are potentially affected may challenge.

 

Lithuania

Aarhus Convention Secretariat

20.1) To what extent are there legal mechanisms in place to ensure that access to review procedures relating to the environment for members of the public concerned is not prohibitively expensive?

 

3

2

There are limited legal mechanisms to reduce costs to claimants and no clear legal mandate requiring costs to not be prohibitively expensive.

20.4) To what extent does the law provide assistance mechanisms to reduce other non-financial and non-gender barriers to access to justice?

 

2

1

The only assistance mechanism cited is a state-sponsored translator for those who do not speak Lithuanian.

23.2) To what extent does the law require the State or State agencies or institutions to provide information to the public about review procedures relating to environmental issues provided by bodies other than courts of law?

 

2

1

There are no clear requirement in the law to publicize review procedures related to environmental issues

Mexico

La Procuraduria Federal de Proteccion al Ambiente and Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales

21.5) To what extent is restitution available as a remedy under the law?

 

0

3

The Federal Environmental Liability Act establishes the ability to seek restitution.

 

P21.1) In the last 5 years, have there been injunctions/stay orders/interdicts issued by a court, tribunal or other judicial body in environmental or natural resource cases?

 

1

2

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Yaqui Indian Community against the construction of an aqueduct.

Romania

Aarhus Convention Secretariat

15.3) To what extent does the law provide access to a review procedure before a court of law or other independent and impartial body in cases when an environmental information request has been denied?

 

3

2

There have been issues identified with legal mechanisms to ensure independence and impartiality in the court system, such as suspension of financial and budgetary independence through and ordinance from the Ministry of Justice.

 

16.3) To what extent does the law require that a court of law or other independent and impartial body hear challenges to substantive and/or procedural legality?

 

3

2

Same as above

17.4) To what extent does the law require the challenges referred to in indicators 1-3 to be heard by an independent and impartial body?

 

3

2

Same as 15.3

19.2) To what extent does the law require review procedures regarding the implementation and enforcement of laws and decisions pertaining to the environment to be decided by impartial and independent courts or bodies?

 

3

2

Same as 15.3

Russia

Aarhus Compliance Committee member

3.1) To what extent does the law clearly define specific grounds on which a request for environmental information can be refused?

 

3

2

It is arguable whether the definition of environmental information in Russian law includes point source pollution or emissions. Score reduced as this can be used to refuse disclosure.

 

4.3) To what extent is there a system established by the law ensuring adequate public information about proposed and existing activities that may significantly affect the environment?

 

 

 

2

1

In Russia it is arguable whether the law includes pollution information of facilities etc – or whether it only includes information of the state of the environmental generally.  In this light a score of 2 is not justified and the score is lowered to 1.

 

8.1) To what extent does the law require the public concerned to have opportunities to participate in decision making related to the environment?

 

2

1

In Russia much of the public participation is conducted by the developer and not the agency.  Thus while the public may have participatory opportunities, they do not necessarily have the ear of the agencies.  This drawback lowers the score on this indicator.

 

8.2) To what extent does the law require public participation opportunities to be provided early in the decision-making process?

 

2

1

Same as above

8.3) To what extent does the law require that the public concerned be provided with information about its opportunities to participate early in the decision-making process?

 

3

1

Same as above. In this case there was also an internal review correction, as the scores for 8.2 and 8.3 should not exceed that of 8.1

9.1) To what extent do the laws concerning environmental impact assessments, pollution control permits, forest concessions, extractive industries,  biodiversity and terrestrial protected areas, and environmental policy-making obligate the State or state agencies at the national level to proactively seek public participation?

 

2

1

Same reasons as 8.1

9.2) To what extent do the laws concerning: environmental impact assessments, pollution control permits, forest concessions, extractive industries,  biodiversity and terrestrial protected areas, and environmental policy-making obligate the State or State agencies at  the national level to give members of the public concerned an adequate opportunity to express their views?

 

2

1

Same as above

11.1) To what extent do the laws concerning environmental impact assessments, pollution control standards and permits, forest concessions, extractive industries, biodiversity and terrestrial protected areas, and environmental policy-making require the State or State agencies at the national level to take due account of the public’s comments in decision-making relating to the environment?

 

2

1

There is a not a clear obligation to take due account of public comments in most cases of decision-making impacting the environment.

 

Table 2: Summary of changes in overall scores and rankings

Country

Former overall score

New overall score

Former rank in legal index

New rank in legal index

India    

1.65

1.75

24

20

Guatemala  

1.24

1.28

46

44(t)

Lithuania

2.42

2.39

1

1

Mexico

1.74

1.75

19

19

Romania

1.83

1.80

15

18

Russia

2.25

2.06

3

8