By Lalanath de Silva (Posted: February 21, 2008)
The Access Initiative (TAI) and its partners are launching the first of its kind assessment of environmental governance in China. It is the first step towards engaging civil society organizations and government agencies to promote the public transparency, participation, and accountability that are essential foundations for sustainable development.
The Access Initiative (TAI) seeks to ensure that people have a voice in the decisions that affect their environment and their communities. To achieve this goal, civil society organizations form national coalitions, assess government progress using a method jointly developed by TAI partners in several countries, raise public awareness, and set priorities for improvements in policy and practice.
The Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), the Southeast Asia leader of The Access Initiative, recently organized a coalition of Chinese nongovernmental organizations that will eventually complete a formal TAI assessment of Yunnan Province. Potential partners and advisors of the TAI coalition for Yunnan met with representatives of TEI, and ICRAF China, which has agreed to lead the Yunnan assessment. Training of partners in China was completed in January.
The results of assessments performed in other countries have helped partners identify gaps in laws, institutions and practices relating to environmental decision-making. In countries including Ecuador, Chile, Hungary, Mexico, Thailand and Uganda, TAI partners have established an impressive record of bringing about changes in access laws and practices in countries where assessments are performed. TAI assessments have been completed in over 40 countries around the world.The TAI assessment in Yunnan, funded by the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia (SENSA), is expected to be completed within the year. When the assessment is completed, China will become the 7th country in Asia where TAI assessments have been performed. Partners in China will use the results of the assessment to engage government leaders to improve transparency and public participation in environmental decision-making in Yunnan, with the expectation that such reforms will lead to better environmental outcomes.