(Posted: May 27, 2009)
From January 2009, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA) has been implementing a project aimed at enhancing access to environmental information and justice in matters relating to the environment by facilitating enactment of the revised framework Environment Management Bill and the Access to Information Bill.
As a first step in implementation, CEPA has successfully reviewed current drafts of the Access to Information Bill and the Environmental Management Bill to determine the manner in which they address the access principles as well as mechanisms for improving access to environmental information and justice. The policy brief produced from the review will be used to engage policy makers and other stakeholders involved in enactment of these draft bills and monitoring compliance to the legislation.
The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi guarantees every person the right of access to information held by the state. Similarly the draft Access to Information Bill outlines provisions for improving access to information. However both the Constitution and this Bill limit their application to information held by the state or any of its organs. The draft Environment Management Bill seeks to address some of these limitations by expanding the scope of the environmental information that may be accessed to include that held by private entities. The provisions for promoting access to environmental information and justice are adequate. The challenge will be ensuring that an independent authority is established which can make public institutions to respond to requests for environmental information.