Citizen Enforcements of Procedural Rights in the Environmental Impact Assessment Process in Belize and Jamaica
The inclusion of procedural rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental decision-making are recognized in international treaties and soft law agreements as central to the sustainable development agenda. Since the 1990s, a number of Caribbean countries have enacted environmental legislation requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to permitting significant developments . The extent to which procedural rights have been included within EIA provisions however is varied. There has been little analysis of the impact of the use by citizens of procedural rights in these EIA processes.
This paper examines the legislative framework for EIAs and citizen enforcement of procedural rights in the decision-making process for proposed developments in Jamaica and Belize. The legislative frameworks adopted by Belize and Jamaica are significantly different; with the former enacting comparatively comprehensive regulations to guide the EIA process and the latter dependent on internal guidelines. In both countries there has been documented failure in law and practice to deliver effective procedural rights. A review of recent court decisions in Belize and Jamaica illustrates the value of citizen enforcement as a means of safeguarding procedural rights in the conduct and review of EIAs as well as demonstrating the failure in compliance.