Thursday, May 21, 2015

India ranks 24th among 70 countries in Environmental Democracy Index

By Our Representative
A Washington-based global research organization has ranked India an average country in Environmental Democracy Index (EDI), which it has worked out on the basis national-level laws, regulations, extrapolating them with rights of transparency, participation, and justice. Ranking India 24th in the list of 70 countries it has selected for analysis, the World Resource Institute (WRI) has ranked India 28th in environmental transparency, 41st in environmental participation, and at almost the top – second – in environmental justice.
With a score of 2.42, the tiny Eastern European country Lithuania ranks No 1. Among the major countries, Russia with a score of 2.25 ranks No 3, the United States, with a score of 2.16 is No 4, United Kingdom scoring 2.14 ranks sixth, and Indonesia and Brazil with scores of 1.80 ranks Nos 16 and 17 respectively. Then is comes India with a score of 1.64 ranking No 24, followed by China (score 1.35, rank 40), Bangladesh (score 1.10, rank 52), and Pakistan (score 0.89, rank 59).
With offices in more than 50 countries, including Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, and the United States, the WDI claims to work closely with country leaders to turn “big ideas into action to sustain our natural resources”, which says are “the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being.” It focuses its work on six “critical” issues at the intersection of environment and development: climate, energy, food, forests, water, and cities and transport.
The WRI in its report says, EDI has been measured by ascertaining degree by which countries have enacted “legally binding rules that provide for environmental information collection and disclosure, public participation across a range of environmental decisions, and fair, affordable, and independent avenues for seeking justice and challenging decisions that impact the environment.”
Explaining EDI results, Jesse Worker of the WDI in a blog titled “The Best and Worst Countries for Environmental Democracy” claims, “EDI is the first-ever online platform that tracks and scores 70 countries’ progress in enacting national laws that promote transparency, accountability and citizen engagement in environmental decision-making. The analysis, based on 75 indicators, identifies the best and worst countries for environmental democracy.”
Giving details of the results, Worker says, “The top three countries are all former Soviet states—Lithuania, Latvia and Russia. Many of their relevant national laws were enacted as part of democratization reforms in the 1990s and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) legally binding Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.”
He adds, “Lithuania and Latvia have both ratified this convention and strengthened their legislation after doing so, such as Lithuania’s amendments to its Law on Environmental Protection and Latvia’s passage of its Environmental Protection Law.”
Worker further says, “Haiti, Malaysia and Namibia scored lowest on the index. Of the bottom 10 countries, some had right-to-information laws, but most lacked provisions requiring that government agencies proactively make environmental information public.”
He adds, “In countries like Philippines, Republic of Congo and Pakistan, citizens need to go through time-consuming or expensive information requests to obtain crucial information like statistics on air or drinking water quality. The government may or may not honor these formal requests.”

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