UK ranks 6th in new environmental democracy index
The UK has been ranked sixth in a new index from the World Resources Institute (WRI) which tracks how 70 countries around the world are progressing on 'environmental democracy'
The index evaluates whether Governments are enacting national laws to promote transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in environmental decision making.
It is assessed and scored by more than 140 international lawyers and experts.
The UK finished sixth behind Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, the US, and South Africa.
The report read: “The UK is a party to the Aarhus Convention and has enacted several strong national laws that support environmental democracy.
It also praised the Freedom of Information Act, and the courts’ willingness to hear environmental cases, as exemplified by the recent air pollution decision against the UK Government.
Avi Garbow, general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency explained: “Environmental democracy isn’t just about making environmental information available to the public; that’s an essential first step, but governments must also allow citizens to be a meaningful part of the environmental decision-making process.”
Lever for change
The WRI said it hoped the index would be a “powerful lever” that will help governments to become more transparent and encourage ordinary citizens to advocate for more rights.
The index found that wealth is an important facilitator for environmental democracy, as is being a signatory of a major treaty like the Kyoto Protocol or the Aarhus convention.
“The Environmental Democracy Index provides strong evidence to what many have long suspected: being party to a legally binding convention leads to stronger laws,” said Constance Nalegach,from the Chilean Ministry of Environment. “Better environmental laws tend to lead to better protection for environmental democracy and rights.”
Will the next Tory Government maintain the UK’s lofty ranking? Here’s what the sustainability experts expect to see over the next five years.