Access to Environmental Information in China

Transparency, participation and the role of media

Authored by: Sam Geall

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Policy in China

Print publication date:  April  2017
Online publication date:  April  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138831117
eBook ISBN: 9781315736761
Adobe ISBN:


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Access to information refers to the right of citizens to access public information held by the state. In environmental governance it is closely related to the idea of public participation: the ways in which individuals are consulted before a decision is made. It is also closely related to issues of media freedom, civil society and the public sphere. The first time public participation in environmental decision-making was codified in an international agreement was in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, agreed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992. The signatories of this declaration included China, and it provides a good set of working definitions for the terms in this chapter. It states:

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 material 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.

(UNEP 1992)

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