The Protection Of The Environment

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Information and public participation play an important role in the protection of the environment. To that end they have become rights which are protected internationally, continentally and domestically, ensuring that all citizens and organizations are able to play an active role in the management of the environmental at all levels. By enabling public participation, governments are inevitably providing transparency in governance and therefore reinforcing the legislative and institutional safeguards that have been put in place to protect the environment. It is important that some level of transparency is available regarding environmental decisions in order to allow the public be aware of decision-making procedures, as well the
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Under Principle 10, public participation is a creature of three distinct requirements Firstly, there is a recognition that participation does not occur in a vacuum; rather, it is facilitated by a healthy understanding of the current state of the environment. The Rio Declaration recognized that “at the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities .”

As such, there is a responsibility on governments to make available information on the environment and the current risks faced to the citizens. The Rio Declaration states that “states shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available” . This includes educating local communities as to the environmental risks they specifically face and their sources. It also means providing an adequate mechanism for governmental bodies to provide this information.

Secondly when the public is fully aware of the status of their environment, then citizens and interest groups should be provided with “the opportunity to participate in the decision making-process ”. Individuals and organizations should have a say in the drafting of legislation, regulation and guidelines.
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