UNEP - Principle 10 and the Bali Guideline

Bali Guideline Implementation Guide Published

The UNEP Governing Council adopted the Bali Guidelines in 2010 as a tool to assist countries in filling gaps in national and sub-national legislation in order to facilitate broad access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. In 2012 UNEP and UNITAR joined hands to promote the Bali Guidelines, including through a project to develop a Guide to the Guidelines implemented by the World Resource Institute (WRI). Drafted with assistance from a global Advisory Group, the Guide is intended to be a practical tool for the use of governments, major groups and stakeholders, legal professionals, implementing authorities and others engaged in the application of Rio Principle 10. It includes a full range of actual examples of implementation of national law and practice to support policy makers, legislators and public authorities in their daily work of applying the Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matter, realizing the provisions of Principle 10 in practice. It can be used to assist states in undertaking their own gap analysis of national legislation. It takes into account the range of diversity of systems of law throughout the world and aims to fit this diversity.

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Rio Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines

Principle 10 was adopted 1992 as a part of the Rio Declaration, stating that:

“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 materials 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. “

Principle 10 sets out three fundamental rights: access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance. The “access rights” have emerged to be very important in promoting transparent, inclusive and accountable environmental governance. Access to information empowers citizens and incentivizes them to participate in decision and policy making processes in an informed manner. Public participation is increasingly being seen as a vital part of addressing environmental problems and achieving sustainable development by encouraging governments to adopt policies and enact laws that take community needs into account. Access to justice provides the foundation of the “access rights”, as it facilitates the public’s ability to enforce their right to participate, to be informed, and to hold regulators and polluters accountable for environmental harm (Benson Ochieng, Implementing Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines in Africa, UNEP, February 2015).

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development from 2012 (Rio + 20) has re-confirmed Principle 10, in its outcome document, “The Future We Want”, also underlining its importance at the regional level. See the Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, 2012, here:

In order to catalyze and to accelerate action in terms of implementing Principle 10, governments adopted the Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Bali Guidelines) at the 11th Special Session of UNEP’s Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environmental Forum in Bali, Indonesia, in 2010. See the Guidelines here:

Bali Guideline Project

Responding to country requests for capacity development for Principle 10 implementation and implementation of the Bali Guidelines, UNEP, UNITAR and UNEP developed a joint global capacity development initiative with the following main elements:

  • Bali Guidelines Implementation Guide: The Guide is currently in its final phase of preparation will be a hands-on tool to assist stakeholders, policymakers, decision makers and legal professionals, to apply the Bali Guidelines. It will examine each of the Guidelines in detail and demonstrate possible ways for national adaptation, taking into account the specificities of developing countries. The Guide will include a full range of real, past examples of the implementation of related provisions from national law and practice.
  • Development of Rio Principle 10 Legal Practitioner Training Materials: The materials will target attorneys and other parliamentary counsels who have already received training in environmental law. The materials will provide them with the necessary skills to advise Governments in the drafting of national legislation on Principle 10.
  • Revision of National Profile Guidance Document: The existing UNITAR guidance document on the preparation of National Principle 10 Profiles will be reviewed and updated to ensure full compatibility with the UNEP Bali Guidelines, and published as a joint UNITAR/UNEP document.
  • Regional Bali Guideline Workshops (see below)
Regional Bali Guideline Workshops

Under the above mentioned project, Regional Workshops were held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Lima, Peru and Amman, Jordan. These workshops brought together representatives of Governments, NGOs and Judiciary, for two days of interactive sessions, during which the Bali Guidelines were presented and discussed in detail.

Report of the Regional Workshop on the Implementation of Rio Principle 10 in the Caribbean Region

Report LA workshop on Principle and Bali Guidelines

Report Amman Bali Guideline Workshop

Principle 10 Initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean

The regional process on Principle 10 began with the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean adopted in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. By means of the Declaration, the signatory countries committed themselves to work towards a regional instrument on the rights of access to environmental information, participation and justice, matters which are enshrined in Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The regional process currently has 19 signatory countries. See list of signatory countries at:

In addition to the Declaration, the regional process has adopted the following founding documents: Roadmap; Plan of Action; Lima Vision; Priority Action Lines for Capacity-Building and Cooperation; San José Content and Santiago Decision. This process may lead to the adoption of a regional Principle 10 legal instrument, similar to the Aarhus Convention.

UNEP, including its Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean works closely with UN ECLAC, which is assisting and facilitating this process. The above mentioned Regional Workshops in Lima and Port-of-Spain were held in close cooperation with both organisations. For more information see:

Principle 10 in Africa

Principle 10 will also be discussed during the 15th session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) to be held in Cairo, Egypt 1-6 March 2015. A background paper on Principle 10 is available here

Aarhus Convention

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (pdf ~50K) was adopted on 25 June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus (Århus) at the Fourth Ministerial Conference as part of the "Environment for Europe" process. It entered into force on 30 October 2001. The Aarhus Convention establishes a number of rights of the public (individuals and their associations) with regard to the environment. The Parties to the Convention are required to make the necessary provisions so that public authorities (at national, regional or local level) will contribute to these rights to become effective.

UNEP cooperates closely with the Aarhus Conventions Secretariat that is hosted by UNECE, including on matters that are related to Article 3(7) of the Convention: “Each Party shall promote the application of the principles of this Convention in international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters relating to the environment.” For more information on the Aarhus Convention see:


Eye on Earth - Special Initiative: Eye on Access for All (A4A)

Eye on Earth facilitates a broad stakeholder engagement process that is regionally relevant and convenes, converges and collaborates around a common agenda to deliver collective impact.

Through the Eye on Earth framework, the A4A initiative engages a community of stakeholder organizations and existing networks to work towards a common agenda to collectively increase the availability and accessibility of integrated and scientifically-based information that is relevant, usable and provides impact within both developed and developing country contexts, as defined in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. For more information on Eye on Earth see: http://www.eoesummit.org/

The Eye on Access for All Special Initiative promotes the implementation of Principle 10 globally. It was formed during the 2011 Eye on Earth Summit and has grown to a membership of 78 stakeholders with a broad geographic representation. Under the Special Initiative, there are currently three projects:

  1. Environmental Democracy Index, undertaken by the World Resources Institute, is intended to provide a practical way to measure progress made by countries on implementing the Bali Guidelines. See http://www.wri.org/our-work/project/access-initiative-tai/commissions
  2. Building Bridges between Regions, led by the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) offers a forum for cooperation and exchange of experiences in relation to Principle 10 implementation between the UNECE region and other interested regions. For more information see: http://www.building-bridges.rec.org/
  3. Bali Guideline Project: see above

New projects are currently under development. For more information contact: Alexander.Juras{at}unep.org and/or Costis.Toregas{at}gmail.com (Access for All Facilitator).

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