The Access Initiative

Access Improvements from 2008 to 2010

Published: 2010

Attached, is a matrix of stories that have been written by TAI partners from October 2008 to July 2010 on access changes within their respective countries. The chart highlights the areas of change based on Access Pillars:Access to Information (A2I), Access to Justice (A2J), Public Participation (PP) and Capacity Building.

Within the chart, one can click on the link provided. This goes directly to a story or short blog post on this website explaining. The post provides first hand information from TAI partners working within that pillar of access.

Propuesta de Objetivos y Acciones Estratégicas para la Gestión y Acceso a la Información Ambiental Nacional

Published: 2009

El Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental inició la construcción de una propuesta de objetivos y acciones estratégicas que permitan mejorar los procesos de gestión de la IA y su acceso.

Esta construcción se basó en el levantamiento de información sobre los principales problemas y debilidades en cuanto a la gestión de la IA, a través de un proceso que incluyó la investigación sobre los sistemas o redes de información existentes, la situación institucional y normativa para la gestión y acceso a la información ambiental y la realización de encuestas cuali-cuantitativas a generadores, gestores y usuarios de la IA para conocer su percepción sobre los principales problemas que se generan en toda la cadena de producción y socialización de información ambiental.

A partir de esta investigación, se identificaron problemas recurrentes en la gestión y socialización de la IA, así como fortalezas y oportunidades que manejan las distintas instituciones públicas y privadas. Esta información ha permitido plantear lineamientos estratégicos para mejorar la gestión y el acceso de la IA, que serán entregados a la autoridad ambiental a fin de apoyar las políticas y acciones para una mayor y mejor generación y socialización de la información en el Ecuador, promovidas por la Secretaría Nacional de Planificación y Desarrollo (SENPLADES) y, en el caso de la Información Ambiental, por el Ministerio del Ambiente.

Greening Justice

Published: 2010

Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals

We have an on going conversation on our discussion groups here:

Specialized environmental courts and tribunals (ECTs) are making major contributions to access to justice, environmental governance, and protection of the environment around the world. Their growth is spectacular – hundreds have been developed in dozens of countries in recent years. This ground-breaking book provides step-by-step practical guidance on how to structure and operate an effective ECT – what works and what does not – based on two years of research and over 150 interviews with expert environmental judges, prosecutors, lawyers, litigants, government officials, academics, and advocacy groups in all regions and major legal systems of the world. This University of Denver ECT Study is authored by the multidisciplinary husband-wife team of George (Rock) Pring – a noted scholar and professor of environmental, international, and constitutional law, government consultant, and former environmental litigator – and Catherine (Kitty) Pring – a professional mediator, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialist, systems analyst and planner, and former government human services official (

The authors identify the 12 key characteristics of ECTs – the “building blocks” or design decisions which contribute to making ECTs work effectively. Designed for capacity building, this comparative study provides a range of options and alternatives within each building block suitable for developed, developing, or least-developed countries. Real world “best practices” and successes and failures are provided for each step, making this a book that will be invaluable to any country or constituency considering creating or improving an ECT.

This volume is published by The Access Initiative (TAI), the largest civil society network dedicated to ensuring that communities have a voice in decisions concerning their natural resources. For nearly a decade, World Resources Institute (WRI) has been privileged and proud to serve as the Global Secretariat of TAI. TAI partners have worked hard in over 45 countries to identify gaps in laws, institutions and practices in the implementation of Principle 10. In the last 4 years, TAI has ramped up its advocacy efforts and worked with Governments to reform laws and institutions to improve transparency, citizen voice and accountability in environmental decision-making. To support its work, TAI has undertaken or commissioned research that fills or supplements key knowledge gaps in good governance. This volume represents one such important effort. The challenge is to take this knowledge and apply it to courts and tribunals to provide cheaper, faster, and more effective justice in environmental matters.

The National Green Tribunal Bill         

Published: 2010

The present critique is a joint effort of members of ‘The Access Initiative – India’ (TAI-India) Coalition comprising of over 30 individuals and NGO’s from across the country. TAI-India is part of a global civil society coalition, comprising of over 150 civil society groups which works for effective enforcement of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration i.e., Access to Information, Pubic Participation and Access to Justice. The drafting of the present critique was a joint effort of lawyers, activists, academicians and administrators from both within and outside the country. This is based on their past experiences of dealing with environmental tribunals and public interest litigation in India and elsewhere. Following were the members of Core Team which collated and prepared the present critique to the proposed Green Tribunal Bill,2009 • Ritwick Dutta,(Advocate, New Delhi), Krishnendu Mukherjee (Advocate, Goa), Manoj Misra, (Peace Institute, New Delhi) • Professor William Lockhart, Professor of Law, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, US. • Lalanath De Silva, Director, The Access Initiative, Washington DC and Public Interest Environmental Lawyer, Sri Lanka

Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública en el Ecuador. Retos y Análisis cinco años después de promulgada la LOTAIP

Published: 2009

Este documento recoge los criterios, análisis y discusiones generados en el Foro “Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública en el Ecuador. Retos y Análisis cinco años después de promulgada la LOTAIP”, y busca ser un medio para difundir y promover el debate sobre los retos existentes en el Ecuador en cuanto al acceso a la información.

El acceso a la información como herramienta de Participación Ciudadana en asuntos ambientales

Published: 2009

En el actual contexto normativo e institucional, la participación de la ciudadanía es uno de los ejes fundamentales de la gestión pública en todos sus ámbitos. La nueva Constitución de Montecristi consagra a la participación ciudadana como un derecho y un principio de organización e innovación institucional del Estado para garantizar los derechos de las personas. No podemos olvidar que el desarrollo requiere del aporte y la inclusión de todos los sectores sociales, no sólo como una forma de ser parte activa de su propio desarrollo, sino también como un espacio de corresponsabilidad para con lo público. Es así que la participación ciudadana cumple un rol articulador en los procesos de desarrollo, siempre y cuando ésta sea vista como una necesidad de articular visiones, propuestas, criterios, acciones y compromisos, y no como una mera formalidad para “avalar” procesos.

En la gestión ambiental, la participación ciudadana fundamenta los espacios de interacción de las comunidades, de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y otros actores interesados, con el gobierno –nacional y local- en los procesos de toma de decisiones en relación al ambiente. Sin embargo, para que esta participación de la ciudadanía sea eficiente, efectiva y oportuna tiene que ser informada.

En este contexto, la edición del mes de agosto de nuestra serie de policy briefs “Temas de análisis”, analiza la importancia del acceso a la información como un insumo indispensable para la participación ciudadana en la gestión ambiental.

U.S. Bill to Limit Corporate Influence in Congressional Elections

By David Heller (Posted: March 27, 2009)

The U.S. Congress is set to introduce legislation designed to reinvigorate participatory democracy by implementing a small-donor approach to congressional campaign finance, challenging the status quo where elections are largely fueled by corporate- and lobby- based contributions. The Access Initiative (TAI) has long noted the value of keeping regular citizens at the heart of the democratic process. This legislative effort is commendable for its commitment to promoting an array of democratic principles.

But because of its radical departure from the engrained Beltway precedents of big money and special interest politics, the bill’s passage is far from guaranteed.

Called ‘The Durbin-Specter Fair Elections Now Act,’ the bill would establish a voluntary system of ‘Fair Elections’ funding for qualified congressional candidates who decline corporate funding and raise only small donations from their constituents.

The scheme that the bill proposes is ambitious but not impractical. First, candidates seeking to participate would have to collect a certain number of $5-$100 contributions from their constituents. After raising a given amount of money – signifying their viability as a candidate – they would be provided with a publicly-funded “Start-Up Grant” to launch a primary campaign, as well as matching funds of $4 for every $1 raised through constituents.

Candidates who receive their party’s nomination in the primary election are then eligible to receive a competitive public grant for use in the general election.

Because the system is voluntary, additional provisions ensure that the candidate opting into it will be competitive with candidates who do not, and choose to remain reliant on larger, more traditional sources of donations.

First, the system is structured so that candidates will receive funding support consistent with the amount raised by elected politicians in previous campaigns. So, participating candidates will not be disadvantaged by a lack of funds. Also, candidates are eligible to receive discounted fares for costs incurred by campaign communications, like T.V. and radio advertisements.

But despite earning bipartisan sponsorship in both houses of the Congress and strong support from a broad base of issue-specific communities including environmental, faith, and labor groups, there has been pessimism expressed about the bill’s passage.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that the proposal would be “hard politically.”

Representatives are notorious for engaging in behind-the-scenes efforts to oppose ethics and campaign finance overhauls in initial stages, but then overwhelmingly supporting them if and when a public vote occurs.

Ultimately, the political costs associated with severing ties to resourceful lobbyists should not blind politicians from recognizing the principled benefits that the bill’s passage will incur.

Fundamentally, it will strengthen the frayed link between representatives and their constituents– the people whose interests representatives are intended to reflect in legislative action. If electoral funding does not come from particular interest groups, but the general public, then representatives will be more likely to support policies that are in the public interest, as opposed to the interest of a particular industry.

This will improve policy decisions generally, because politicians would have an incentive to base them on the objective merits of particular cases – and how they may affect their constituency’s wellbeing – as opposed to the reaction of more parochial funding organizations.

Other byproducts of this democratic commitment include the bill’s encouragement of getting the public – both potential candidates and regular citizens – involved in politics. Candidates will no longer remain beholden to the wealthiest interest groups. Instead, a successful campaign can be run on the broad based support of individual people. This could lead to a more diverse and competitive representative body, comprised of intelligent and hard-working people who lack influential ties to particular industries.

Likewise, the bill will create an environment in which networks of grassroots organizations – manned by individual citizens – will be empowered to lead candidates through election cycles.

Examples of the effectiveness of small donor-based campaign financing abound. While the bill will not initially apply to presidential elections, the unprecedented campaign of Barack Obama demonstrates the ability of grassroots networks to win elections and increase overall political involvement, as people showed up to the polls and contributed money during this election in record numbers.

Likewise, five U.S. states have already implemented similar small donor programs for their state-level elections, and they’ve been widely viewed as successful.

Should the U.S. Congress pass the bill, not only would it advance the state of democracy in the U.S., but it would send a broader message to the rest of the world about the importance – and political feasibility – of abiding by democratic principles.

Environmental Democracy

Published: 2006

An Assessment of Access to Information, Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Selected European Countries; The Access Initiative European Regional Report

This report was conducted using the assessment method developed by The Access Initiative, a global network of civil society organizations. Unless otherwise noted, the opinions, interpretations and findings presented in this document are the responsibility of the authors and not of The Access Initiative. For additional information about The Access Initiative, including its members and leadership, please see

Supported by The European Commission, Directorate General Justice, Freedom and Security Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors, and the Commission of the European Union is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.