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Access to environmental information: A comparative analysis of the Aarhus Convention with Brazilian Legislation

Sandra Aline Nascimento da Nóbrega

elni Review 2011, Issue 2,  pp. 87-95.

In order to get the general public more involved in decisions regarding sustainable economic development, the Brazilian Congress approved a law specifically targeting availability and access to environmental information in 2003. This law was clearly inspired by the principles of 1998 Aarhus Convention which established the procedural rights to access to environmental information, public participation and access to court in environmental matters among European countries. This paper aims to compare the Aarhus Convention – with its innovative nature and open administrative and democratic practices – with applications on access to environmental information in Brazil. It first gives a brief explanation of the Aarhus Convention, followed by an overview of access to environmental information in Brazilian legislation and its recent evolution. The paper compares Brazilian legislation and the Aarhus Convention and identifies which criteria of the Aarhus Convention regarding access to environmental information have already been introduced in Brazilian legislation. In addition, the paper discusses the actual effectiveness of Brazilian Law 10.650/03 through an empirical exercise seeking to estimate how often it has been used to access environmental information.

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