Analysis: ‘Environmental democracy’ – the gap between law and practice

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Access Initiative, a global coalition of public interest groups, carried out a report on comparative levels of ‘environmental democracy’ among a selection of central and east  European countries.

The report focuses on national-level implementation of commitments to access of information, participation, and justice in environmental decision-making. Thus, it examines whether significant gaps exist between in-place legislation and subsequent on-the-ground implementation. The performances of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine form the basis of the study. 

The paper comes to the following conclusions regarding the above-mentioned countries:

  • Legal frameworks support the meaningful implementation of access rights;
  • access to information is generally satisfactory;
  • public participation in decision-making exists, but does not guarantee that it is acted upon;
  • access to justice is gradually opening up for environmental matters, and;
  • large gaps between commitment and practice exist in areas heavily dependent on financial and human resources.

Read the full report here:

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