Environmental democracy isn't just about making environmental information available to the public; that's an essential first step, but governments must also allow citizens to be a meaningful part of the environmental decision-making process.
India has ranked 24th out of 70 countries in the first Environmental Democracy Index that evaluates nations' progress in enacting laws to promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision making. Lithuania tops the list released by the Washington-based World Resources Institute (WRI) and Access Initiative on Wednesday. Besides the European nation, Latvia, Russia, the US, South Africa, the UK, Hungary, Bulgaria, Panama and Colombia in the top 10 nations in the list. The index evaluates environmental democracy in 70 countries, including 75 legal and 24 practice indicators, based on recognised international standards. According to the report, 93 per cent of the assessed countries have established the right to environmental information. However, almost half of these countries (45 per cent) do not have strong protections to ensure that access to information is affordable and timely.
The vast majority of countries assessed (79 per cent) earned only fair or poor ratings for public participation. Nearly half (46 per cent) of the countries assessed do not provide any ambient air quality data online for their capital cities.In 73 per cent of the countries, courts will hear environmental cases. But very few countries assessed have assistance for marginalized groups. Only 14 per cent of the countries have legal mechanisms that help women access courts to obtain redress when their environmental rights are violated.