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Launch of new book on regulating access to environmental information

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Beijing, 07.12.11: ARTICLE 19 and the Center for Legal Assistance for Pollution Victims (CLAPV) have launched a Chinese-language book titled "Regulating Access to Environmental Information: Theories and Practices." The book examines the legal framework for accessing environmental information in China and juxtaposes the Chinese model with international standards and best practices from around the world.

"As China accelerates its economic growth, the free flow of information and the full realisation of the public right to know are the logical and necessary steps towards ensuring and solidifying China's global role. Access to environmental information, in particular, is absolutely essential to minimise environmental risks for local communities," says Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

At the national and local levels, the last fifteen years have seen a rapid expansion of countries adopting laws on access to information, including China. Presently, the government has taken some steps towards recognising that members of the public have the right to know how their environment is being shaped and to take part in decision-making, for it is their livelihoods that are directly affected by increased chemical and pollutant releases.

"At this important juncture of China's environmental governance, ARTICLE 19 hopes that this book will contribute towards greater transparency and accountability and that government officials, environmental practitioners and the general public in China can work together to promote the free flow of information and build a safer environment in China," adds Dr. Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

The book explains the right to environmental information under China's Open Government Information Regulations and Measures on Open Environmental Information (for Trial Implementation). It provides guidance on obtaining environmental information in China, the exceptions to disclosure, and legal remedies when legitimate information is denied. Aside from the Chinese experience, it outlines development of access to environmental information at the international level and presents a range of policy models from other countries for reference. At the same time, the book highlights the challenges to greater information disclosure and public participation in country.

"Regulating Access to Environmental Information: Theories and Practices" is published by China Legal Publishing House. The book is available in hardcopy at Xinhua Bookstore and other major bookshops in China, as well as at Amazon.cn.

Click here for the electronic version of the book (in Chinese only)

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