Environmental Democracy Index Score
Jamaica scored well on the Justice Pillar, fair on the Transparency pillar, and poor on the Participation pillar. For Transparency, the public is granted the right to access environmental information on request, but only a limited amount of environmental and public health information must be proactively disclosed to the public. Regarding the Participation pillar, the score was low because the public is provided with only limited opportunities to participate in environmental decision making, and the government has discretion to seek public input during the preparation of environmental regulations. For the Justice pillar, there are review procedures that apply to decisions on environmental information requests, but the law does not provide legal assistance mechanisms to help the poor and marginalized seek redress in courts when their environmental rights are violated. By addressing these issues, Jamaica could provide the public with comprehensive information pertaining to the environment, opportunities to participate in environmental decision making, and an ability to access courts to address environmental harms.
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The TAI coalition in Jamaica has focused on facilitating access to information, public participation and access to justice around protected areas and large development projects. This included the development of an online platform called Development Alert!, which proactively collects and consolidates information from different government agencies on applications for new development projects, obtaining this information through requests made using Jamaica’s Access to Information Act. Site users can view proposed and approved projects and learn about the potential impacts, report a development they’ve seen in their neighborhood to help increase awareness about new projects, and get involved by commenting on a development and voicing their concerns. The TAI Jamaica coalition is led by the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), a non-governmental organization the focuses on environmental education and advocacy. JET seeks to raise the profile of environmental issues in Jamaica through education and legal programs. Their legal program provides legal aid to communities whose environment is affected by high-impact development.
Jamaica completed a TAI Assessment in 2014 and the coalition has been working to implement and publicize the assessment report’s recommendations. The TAI Jamaica coalition has also been actively involved in the Principle 10 process for Latin America and the Caribbean. Representatives of JET have attended the regional meetings and negotiations, and helped to formulate a TAI regional strategy.