Environment Democracy Index : Highlights and Implications for India and the World

Environment Democracy Index: Highlights and Implications for India and the World

Question: India has received a moderate rating in the first Environment Democracy Index. Discuss the highlights of this index and its implications for India and the world.

A. Highlights

• The Environment Democracy Index evaluated environmental democracy in 70 nations including 75 legal and 24 practice indicators based on acknowledged global standards

• This is the first index of its kind

• It evaluates the progress of the nation in making and enacting laws for the promotion of transparency, citizen engagement as well as accountability in environmental decision making

• Advancement of good governance and environmental rights is an essential part of this index

• This index has been launched by Washington based World Resources Institute and Access Initiative

• Index will help to bring about transparency in the government and environmental rights for citizens

• This is an objective common index for comprehending the state of environmental democracy for countries across the world to strengthen laws and public participation in ecological issues

• Environmental democracy is a first step for citizens to be part of environmental decision making

B. Implications for the World

• 10 Top Ranking Nations on this Index: Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the US, South Africa, the UK, Hungary, Bulgaria, Panama and Colombia

• Survey indicates 93% of the assessed nations have right to environment information

• But around nearly half or 45% of the countries lack strong protection to ensure timely and affordable access to information

• Massive percentage of countries assessed namely 79% earned only fair or poor ratings for public participation according to the report

• Many nations also lag behind in providing basic environmental information to citizens

• Close to 46% of countries assessed did not provide ambient air quality data online for capital cities

• Around 73% of the nations had courts which heard environmental cases yet few nations assessed had assistance for marginalised groups

• Around 14% of the countries had legal access for women to courts in case their environmental rights were trampled upon

C. Implications for India

- India ranked 24th in the Environmental Democracy Index among 70 nations

- India does not lack courts for environmental cases; it also has an air quality index

Facts and Stats

• The Access Initiative and World Resources Institute have jointly launched the Environmental Democracy Index

• Index offers insights on environmental democracy and opportunities to use tools to support reforms

• It is the first index to measure the following:

- Public’s right to freely access timely as well as relevant information

- Provision of public input and scrutiny in decision making

- Justice before fair and independent legal authorities in the event of environmental harm or violation of environmental rights

• Global environmental problems such as air and water pollution, impact of industry and loss of biodiversity will be addressed through EDI which offers legal analysis on procedural rights as well
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