Some New Resources about the Aarhus Convention

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Jun 25, 2008

I want to share a useful resource that I picked up at the 3rd Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus convention in Riga, Latvia. The last resource in this list was provided to me by Fe Sanchis Moreno, an erstwhile access practitioner in Spain. These are in English and Spanish. These can be useful for access practitioners in Europe since they deal with the guidelines established by the European Union for the application of the convention in member countries. They can also be useful to access practitioners in other parts of the world, since they provide a model for the way the convention can be applied in a regional setting.

HOW FAR HAS THE EU APPLIED THE AARHUS CONVENTION? EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL BUREAU (EEB) 2 October 2007

In English- http://www.eeb.org/activities/transparency/AARHUS-FINAL-VERS...

En Espaniol- http://www.abogados.es/portalABOGADOS/archivos/ficheros/1193...

Guía sobre el Acceso a la Justicia Ambiental CONVENIO DE AARHUS

http://www.abogados.es/portalABOGADOS/archivos/ficheros/1193...

A case brought by Fe Sanchis Moreno on access rights- http://www.gocalia.com/riga/PRESENTACION.swf

10 Comments
Indicators to measure government performance
9:53am - Jul 18, 2008

I have read the report “Voice and Choice” with much interest. I am an environmental advocate and a prospective PhD in a Kenyan University, writing up a proposal.

I am deeply interested and concerned about environmental governance - and in particular public participation, because i have seen it glossed over in Kenya and Tanzania.

I have read that certain indicators were used to measure government performance in the TAI study.

I am really interested to know how you can measure performance in the implementation of laws, policies - or how you can measure public participation.

Any ideas will be appreciated.

Ken Mwathe

Hi Ken,

Good to hear from you with your important questions. TAI developed an assessment toolkit over many years. It is now web-based and you can access the toolkit at http://research.accessinitiative.org/

Once you get to the site, login to the toolkit as a guest (Login: guest@tai.org and password “guest”) and take a look at the indicators. You can also look at the way we structure our worksheets for each indicator. The worksheets allow partners to rank an indicator and there are research guidelines to ensure that partners are assessing the same thing wherever they are in the world.

TAI assessments have been done for Tanzania and Kenya. Only the Tanzania assessment is complete.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Lalanath de Silva

Indicators to measure government performance
2:30pm - Jul 21, 2008

Hi Lalanath,

I really appreciate this reply.

I will take a look at the indicators and will let you know my progress. I would also appreciate to link up with whoever is doing the Kenyan bit.

Where can i find the country reports like the one for Tanzania?

Much obliged.

Ken

Indicators to measure government performance
3:13pm - Jul 21, 2008

Hi Lalanath,

It’s Ken again after a quick look at the indicators. Very interesting indeed.

But i have a question. You want to measure government’s effort under public participation using indicator No 69: “How reasonable was the length of the public comment period in the selected case?”

The answers can be as varied as the number of researchers unless there is a guideline to enable measurement of “reasonableness” is provided.

Is this where the worksheets you mentioned come in and where can i find these?

Thanks

Ken

Hi Ken,

  1. The worksheets are where you will find the guidance for how to assess “reasonableness”. Keep in mind that these are perception-based indicators. Short of conducting a major house to house survey, it would be impossible to obtain “objective” data to answer governance questions. Indeed, the UNDP Oslo Governance Centre is developing such indicators. But, believe me, those would have to be administered through government agencies - not NGOs. The worksheet for the indicator you refer to can be accessed at: http://research.accessinitiative.org/?module=research.resear.... In the worksheet, research guidelines help define what to look for. For example “reasonableness” is defined in the indicator 69 worksheet as follows- “Reasonable” is considered 2-4 weeks for a public comment period. The reasonableness will also depend on the length and level of technicality of the information to be reviewed by the public. If the length of the public comment period in your case was at least 4 weeks, then select value “Length of public comment period adequate.”

  2. Published country reports can be found at: http://research.accessinitiative.org/?module=findings&set_v=.... However, the country reports for Tanzania are not up yet as it is undergoing final reviews. You can view TAI partners in various countries at: http://www.accessinitiative.org/partners

Hope this helps.

Lalanath

Indicators to measure government performance
9:24am - Jul 25, 2008

Hi Lalanath,

This is all quite interesting as well as exciting. This is because environmental governance is key - perhaps the most important aspect of environmental protection/conservation - but it is challenging to measure it. Yet we must find ways of assessing whether it is working.

I believe the insights from TAI-WRI initiative will be a strong reference point as i develop my PhD proposal. I should perhaps share with you the outline once i am done.

I will check the links you have provided and will get back to you.

Thanks for great job and being responsive.

Cheers.

Ken

Importance of perception
1:34pm - Aug 15, 2008

Hi Ken, Welcome to the discussion, and it is really good that you enrich with your “fresh eye” and comments our internal debates. As Lalanath mentioned, the indicators are sometimes perception-based, but this is no way a decrease of their value. The matter is sometimes WHOSE perception it is. And since TAI builds on the exprience of many access practitioners, their evaluation has much more to it than a simple yes/no or a number ranging from 1 to 5. Another acknowledged example is Transparency International whose survey is frenquently referred to as the Corruption Index of countries. Many forget that it is CPI, Corruption Perception Index and the key is who are asked about their perceptions re corruption in a country. They are the key stakeholders, so is the case with TAI and environmental governance. Best, CS

CB meeting in Geneva
7:46am - Sep 22, 2008

Does anybody know when exactly the annual Capacity Building meeting of the Aarhus Convention Secretariat will be this year (in Geneva)?

UNECE Meeting in Geneva
1:36pm - Oct 13, 2008

Dear Me, I am responding to you (me). The Annual Capacity Building Meeting of the UNECE Aarhus Convention Secretariat will be held on 27 November 2008. There is a limited number of participants invited, and travel funding is not provided. TAI is invited thru Csaba Kiss (EMLA) and Michael Ewing (IT Sligo). Topics, agenda will follow soon (I will post them here). However, the basic issue will be the plans for the Secretariat for the future, based on the long term strategy thereof, adopted at the 3rd Meeting of the Parties in Riga, Latvia, this summer.

UNITAR activity in P10 assessment
11:30am - Feb 15, 2009

Dear All, I want to post this comment to the Plaza Latina also (if I ever get a permission to access) but it may be of relevance for a broader community (I have to apologize for the extremely long delay in posting this message).

Having met Maria Ortiz from UNITAR (I think, they are physically based in Geneva at the UNEP offices), I learned that UNITAR is active in assessing access rights implementation in certain countries.

There are 3 countries in Central America where UNITAR prepares national profiles on the implementation of access rights. Around the end of last year they held a meeting with appr. 200 participants in this topic. The funding comes from the Spanish government. +4 countries will start the preparation of the profiles soon. All profiles focus on P10 implementation. Also at the African Environmental Ministers Conference where 20 countries participated, 3 countries start a similar project. In 2010, UNITAR plans a conference on this issue. They also want to develop a methodology on participation, and offer an e-learning course and a toolkit on this.

Also at the UNECE Geneva meeting the diverse methodologies of assessing access rights implementation were kind-of prioritized, as follows:

Aarhus Convention National Implementation Report: government self-evaluation TAI: independent CSO evaluation UNITAR National Profiles: multi-stakeholder evaluation

Some voices were raised that the direction of development is towards the last… Any views on this?

dr. Csaba Kiss Director EMLA

ps: The representative of the EC, Daniele Franzone said that there is no interest in the Latin American governments towards access issues, whenever the EC approaches the region with such initiatives. I will ask the Latinos/Latinas to confirm or reject this view at Plaza Latina, too.

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