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Access to Available Information is the Basis of Transparent Management

20.12.2015

gavar_20_12Available information relating to the environment allows employees, entrepreneurs, consumers, civil society representatives, each of us to impact on decision-making processes. The key of transparent management is the available information. There are various tools on access to information, such as electronic management, open data, and other similar initiatives, which are aimed at providing access to environmental information, which can promote environmental protection and prevent negative human impact on nature.

On December 8-10, 2015 in Geneva, under the leadership of the Republic of Moldova, was held the fourth meeting of the Working Group on Access to Information under the Aarhus Convention.

The meeting was attended by the Parties to the Convention, representatives of non-governmental and international organizations, academic and business sectors. From Armenia the event was attended by the National Coordinator of the Aarhus Convention and president of “Blejan” NGO, who also coordinates the Aarhus Centers program. /The list of participants
http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/pp/a_to_i/4th_meeting/list-of-participants-161215_final.pdf/:

During the meeting, the delegates presented the problems that hinder access to information available to the public, leading experience in this area, as well as possible future developments.

Baskut Tunchak, Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur mentioned in his speech that the right to information was the most important as it ensures the realization of all rights.

Information becomes available, when people began to express a desire to be informed and the information should be given in a form that all human rights are protected. He also noted that no private business can be legitimate if the human right to health is violated. Consequently, the business must ensure the right to live in a healthy environment.

At the meeting was also discussed the issues related to quality of available information, further restrictions of environmental information, tools of environmental information dissemination through electronic information, information and coordination mechanism of ecological democracy of the Aarhus Convention (Aarhus Clearinghouse) and further developments
gavar_20_12_1The participants also discussed the issues of improving access to environmental information, environmental information provided by the various public authorities, grounds for refusal of providing information, which may refer to certain limitations specified in the Convention with regard to provision of information.

Mara Silina, representative of the Eco-forum noted in her report about the questionnaire on the demand for environmental information prepared by their organization, which was sent to 16 countries.
8 of these, have received various answers, such as in Greece have been stressed the importance to the industrial sector, mainly chemical, in Kazakhstan the results of air, water monitoring, in Moldova the state of the river waters, lack of hydro-chemical indices, in Russia the confidentiality of the results of inspections, in Uzbekistan the lack of information on the MPC and etc.

It was highlighted the importance of a common database, in which the information will be complete and available, including cross-border context.

Many delegates stressed the importance of websites, mobile applications, social media and other tools for active and effective dissemination of environmental information. Parties to the Convention and with interested parties’ have taken further action for the promotion of e-management, open data and other such initiatives.

A question was raised by the representative of Armenia about the lack of information on reproduction place of the Red Book’s animals. In response, it was marked that if the question was about the rare species, than can be given information on what species are in that area, but not about the coordinates: this does not require a common approach, this requires an individual approach. The participants also learned about the benefits of reuse of permissible environmental information generated in the public sector.

They shared practical experience on inquiries for environmental information, if those related to public bodies, researches, national security and defense, and commercial and industrial information. Numerous good examples were presented in connection with the protection and transparent implementation of programs of public interest.

The working groups highlighted the importance of disclosing information about all types of emissions. The participants were informed about the latest developments in the European region, environmental information systems, the Global Earth Observation System and the UN initiatives on global geospatial information management. The aim of the international process was to improve the data, which is important in decision-making, and accountability for addressing the challenges of development.

The participants came to the conclusion that the expansion of access to information will contribute to the implementation of a number of objectives in the field of sustainable development.

Therefore, the Working Group proposed the sustainable development parties to have a considerable impact on the modernization of the implementation of the first pillar of the Convention.

The results of the working group will contribute to the Parties efforts towards expanding access to environmental information and promote better cooperation between the various governmental bodies, NGOs, Aarhus Centers and other stakeholders.

For more information, please visit:

http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=39258#/

Lianna Asoyan
Chairman of “Blejan” NGO
Tell: (+374) 77 76 46 41
E-mail: blejanli@gmail.com
Editor: Mari Chaqryan
Translated by Anush Beybutyan