Principle 10

UNEP - Principle 10 and the Bali Guideline

Principle 10 was adopted in 1992 as a part of the Rio Declaration, stating that:

“Environmental issues are best handled with participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. 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, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided. “

Principle 10 sets out three fundamental rights: access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance. The “access rights” have emerged to be very important in promoting transparent, inclusive and accountable environmental governance. Access to information empowers citizens and incentivizes them to participate in decision and policy-making processes in an informed manner. Public participation is increasingly being a vital part of addressing environmental problems and achieving sustainable development by encouraging governments to adopt policies and enact laws that take community needs into account. Access to justice provides the foundation of the “access rights”, as it facilitates the public’s ability to enforce their right to participate, to be informed, and to hold regulators and polluters accountable for environmental harm (Benson Ochieng, Implementing Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines in Africa, UNEP, February 2015).

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development from 2012 (Rio + 20) has re-confirmed Principle 10, in its outcome document, “The Future We Want”, also underlining its importance at the regional level. In order to catalyze and to accelerate action in terms of implementing Principle 10, governments adopted the Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Bali Guidelines) at the 11th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environmental Forum in Bali, Indonesia, in 2010.

See the Guidelines here

Bali guideline implementation guide

UNEP, UNITAR, and UNEP developed a joint global capacity development initiative with resulted among other outputs into the Bali Guidelines Implementation Guide, a hands-on tool to assist stakeholders, policymakers, decision-makers, and legal professionals, to apply the Bali Guidelines. It examines each of the Guidelines in detail and demonstrates possible ways for national adaptation, considering the specificities of developing countries. The Guide includes a full range of real, past examples of the implementation of related provisions from national law and practice. Currently, it is available in English and Spanish, translations in other languages are in progress.
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