Environmental Democracy Index Score
Sri Lanka received a fair score for the Justice pillar, but scored poorly on the Participation and Transparency pillars. The public is not granted a right to access environmental information, and government authorities are not obligated to proactively make environmental information available to the public. While the law provides opportunities for public participation in the development of environmental impact assessments (EIAs), and requires the government to take due account of public input on EIAs, there are no legal mechanisms to ensure that participation occurs at an early stage. The public is granted broad legal standing to file environmental claims in court; however, the law does not provide legal mechanisms to assist women, the poor, and other vulnerable groups to seek redress through the justice system when their environmental rights are violated. By addressing these issues, Sri Lanka could ensure the public can access environmental information, participate at an early stage in the decision making process, and hold the government accountable for decisions that harm the environment.
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The Sri Lankan government has a strong tradition of non-disclosure that preserves information for official purposes, with potential disciplinary proceedings should unauthorized information be released to the public.
In November 2005, the TAI Sri Lanka National Coalition was formed with the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) as the lead organization. Soon after, the TAI program officially began with the “Launch and Training Workshop for South Asia.” During this same time, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Urban Development delivered a keynote address stating that Sri Lanka was a signatory to the Rio Declaration and that the government was committed to advancing Principle 10. PILF helped coordinate Sri Lanka in joining PP10. With cabinet approval of joining P10 in September 2007, the Minister appointed a National Steering Committee (NSC) to lead the drafting commitments to P10 one year later. The NSC, supported by PILF, drafted a set of ministerial directions on information disclosure as part of Sri Lanka’s commitment to P10. On September 2009, the Minister officially issued the Directions on Information Disclosure in the Urban Sector, the first of its kind for Sri Lanka.
The TAI Sri Lanka coalition’s priorities are grounded in the conclusions of the TAI assessment that began in May 2006, when a National Advisory Panel was formed to give input for selected issues and begin compiling research for the assessment. As part of the assessment process, PILF carried out a pilot project on enforcement, along with two poverty pilot studies. Based on the latter pilot studies, PILF continued to address the most important recommendations and taking them up with relevant Sri Lankan government authorities.