With great call from the public was developed in Santiago a Workshop of Rio +20 and new environmental institutions in Chile.
Nov 21, 2011

On May 25th, Corporación Participa with the international network, The Access Initiative, the Department of Environmental Assessment (SEA) and the Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Chile, developed a Workshop entitled “Access to Information and Citizen Participation in the System of Environmental Impact Assessment in Chile”. This activity takes place in the run-up to the 3rd World Summit on Sustainable Development, or “Rio 2012 Summit”.

Background: New environmental institutions PART ICIPA organized this event in the context of the implementation of the new environmental regulations in Chile. The January 26 enactment of Law No. 20,417 created thee Ministry of Environment, the Superintendence of the Environment and Environmental Assessment Service. The end result is that the roles of writing of regulation, supervision, and environmental management functions all become separate.

Under the new framework, the Ministry will develop new regulations for the Environmental Impact Assessment System (SEIA in Spanish). (The final version will come out of Comptroller approximately in late 2011).

From September 2010 to March 2011, PARTICIPA, together with Terram, Environmental Prosecutor and Sustainable Chile, held a series of meetings with officials of the Environmental Assessment Services to influence the drafting of SEIA regulations, specifically those sections on the rights of access to public information and citizen participation. The organizations proposed related to community participation in the rights of access to public information and citizen participation in project planning under the SEIA. TAI’s publication, A Seat at the Table: Including the Poor in Decisions for Development and Envirnoment from Access Initiative and the World Resources Institute (WRI), and recent directives of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for the implementation of Principle 10 were major inputs to Chilean organizations’ proposed language.

The Workshop The May 26th workshop had two aims: a) To understand the global debate taking place on Principle 10 (on access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters) of Rio Declaration of 1992 in the context of the Rio 2012 Summit. b) To present and critique the draft Regulation with regard to access to rights to information and citizen participation have in the Evaluation System Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA).

Panelists With the auditorium of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Chile full of attendees, the Workshop included the following panelists:

a) Enrique Rajevic, Legal Director of Council for Transparency. b) Javier García, Director of International Relations, Ministry of Environment.
c) Guillermo Acuña, ECLAC Representative, who discussed the Summit in the perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean and offered CEPAL´s support in creating a regional convention on access rights . d) Joseph Foti, member of WRI (World Resources Institute), coordinator of the global network Access Initiative. Foti spoke of citizen participation in vulnerable communities, showing international standards on the subject. e) Andrea Sanhueza. Coordinator of Access Initiative in Chile and coordinator of Incide project of Corporación Participa. She highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the draft of new Regulation SEIA, highlighting the suggestions accepted and not accepted by the Environmental Assessment Service (SEA). f) Juan Pablo Armisén, Head of Citizen Participation of the SEA, who highlighted the progress of the SEIA draft Regulation concerning the right of citizen participation. g) Ezio Costa, Lawyer and Coordinator of the Center for the Study of FIMA, who critically analyzed the Regulation showing it disadvantages.

Audience About 70 people attended the event, especially from government agencies and academia. The former group included officials from municipalities and public services related to agriculture, fisheries, public works, consumers, environment, and transparency. Among the academics were scholars from universities, research centers, and think tanks.

At the end of the event, Andrea Sanhueza thanked the panelists and attendees, inviting the public to participate in the process of consultation on the draft Regulation SEIA, which will be available on the Internet, precisely in order to receive comments from global civil society.


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