A healthy environment is critical to public health, ecosystem vitality, and the sustainability of societies. A majority of countries have endorsed this view and adopted environmental laws or included the right to a healthy environment in their constitutions. However, practice often lags behind the adoption of environmental laws, and to date, there have been very little data to help understand and address this gap.
The newly-released report on Environmental Governance Indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean© (EGI) represents an effort to address this challenge by measuring how environmental governance functions in practice in ten countries in the region: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Peru, and Uruguay. This study is the result of a collaborative research effort undertaken by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Justice Project (WJP).
Content & Methodology
The EGI provides new data on 11 primary indicators of environmental governance for each country:
1) Regulation and Enforcement
2) Civic Engagement
3) Fundamental Environmental and Social Rights
4) Access to and Quality of Justice
5) Air Quality and Climate
6) Water Quality and Resources
9) Oceans, Seas, and Marine Resources
10) Waste Management
11) Extraction and Mining
The EGI features key regional trends and insights on environmental governance, as well as detailed profiles for each country. The EGI’s 11 primary indicators presented in the report are derived from an Environmental Qualified Respondents’ Questionnaire (EQRQ) completed by more than 500 in-country lawyers, academics, non-governmental organizations, and management consultants with expertise in environmental issues. In addition, the EGI features indicators from third-party data sources to provide a more complete contextual picture of each country’s environmental governance.
Features of the EGI
The EGI includes several features that make it a useful diagnostic tool:
- Environmental Governance in Practice. Beyond the existence of written legal code, the EGI measures environmental governance in practice by looking at implementation and approaches to environmental decision-making. Among others, the EGI includes indicators on clear and appropriate institutional mandates and effective coordination across relevant institutions, such as whether environmental ministries coordinate with other relevant national and sub-national agencies.
- Comprehensive and Multi-Dimensional. The EGI is a cross-country instrument that measures environmental governance comprehensively. The EGI is based on three pillars:
- Environmental rule of law that measures regulation and enforcement, civic engagement, fundamental rights and access to justice;
- Practices by environmental theme that analyzes topics from air and water quality to biodiversity, forestry, and waste; and
- Practices by sectors that deepen environmental management actions by industry. In this edition, this pillar focuses on extraction and mining.
- New Data from Practitioners. The EGI provides a comprehensive set of indicators based on primary data. The EGI measures the application of environmental rule of law from the point of view of practitioners, who navigate their countries’ environmental regulations on a regular basis.
- Culturally Competent. The EGI is flexible and adaptable to vastly different social, cultural, economic, and political systems, and can therefore be applied in many countries. The data shows that every country faces challenges when it comes to strengthening institutions, norms, and practices that support strong environmental governance.
The EGI will be a crucial tool for contributing to countries’ efforts to ensure a healthy environment and sustainable development.
The IDB and WJP will hold a public webinar in November to present the methodology and key data insights from the EGI as well as to discuss the results of the study with country experts. Please stay tuned for event details!