My presentation today is about the findings of the STRIPE Project. I plan to give you a short background to some of the issues the STRIPE project address, take you briefly through the methodology we utilised and then go into our findings from Indonesia and Thailand. We have a report that has been handed out to you that summarises these findings. We have also made 9 recommendations based on these findings are in that are that we can discuss at the end with the recommendations that you will hear from both presenters . STRIPE was conceived based on the result of TAIs research in 2008 that indicated that ( monitoring data, compliance data and the quality of information provided to the public was weak in the 65 case studies that we analysised from all over the world. The research also indicated that companies were continuing to claim confidentiality for data on the pollution they released into the environment and the even where specific systems were designed to release company level data on the environment it was released in forms that are not understandable to the public. STRIPE was thus designed to take advantage of the political opportunity created by using access to information laws in two countries Indonesia and Thailand to try and help ordinary citizens, civil society and communities understand the quality of the air and water in their communities and use that to help make change.
Map Ta Phut is one of the largest industrial estates in the world with close to 200 facilities incluing petroleum, gas and other polluting industries. Over thirty additional industry were proposed to be added. Activists including the Eastern Peoples Network obtained a court order trying to stop this development in line with the new constitution that required the preparation of additional health impact assessments. 11 projects have now got the go ahead by the courts. The government has said in a statement that this delay is expected to last for 10 months after which the projects should go ahead despite information about the health of nearby citizens and pollution of the water and air.
This is Ms. Lee Uk mari a villager who lives near the Map ta Phut estate. We visited her house and she told us that her well was polluted with arsenic by the local health authorities. Local officials also stated that it may be in her blood. She does not know how or when it will be cleaned up. She still uses it for gardening and believes the industries from Map Ta Phut are affecting her health.
This is the Tanjung Jati B Power Plant operates at Tubanan Village, Kembang Sub-District, Jepara Regency, Central Java. It is, close to the northern part of Java Sea in the area of Tubanan village. Where villagers live from agriculture and fishery sector,
This is Bakri a community leader from Tubanen. He is concerned about a little girl in his communities suffering from respiratory illnesses that he believes is caused from the coal fired power plant.
Empower communities to in the target countries to improve their environmental health through improved access to information. (FOI) law in partner country by strengthening domestic constituencies demanding environmental information. (1)to conduct research and analysis in these countries on air and water pollution control systems, identifying deficiencies and gaps in pollution control regulation (2)use FOI laws to push government to proactively release environmental information on air and water quality monitoring data, (3)work with communities and government to build their capacity to properly monitor private sector effluent and emission data (4) Build spaces for government dialogue on these issues and identification and support for key government officials to act as change makers in this process.
Friends of the earth / Legal Aid foundations – indonesia – Dr. Ganniga Sutthiprasid, Lawyer, Office of the Administrative Courts; o Mr. Pairoj Pholphet, Secretary for the Union Civil Liberty; o Mr. Srisuvan Janya, Environmental Committee, Lawyers Council of Thailand; o Mr. Sutthi Atchasai, Coordinator, Eastern People Network.
Ambient conditions – What is the quality of the water in the river or the quality of the air? – How were the standards set- was it transparent? E.g In indonesia preliminary research already reveal that air emission standards are not sufficient – Mercury Point Source _ What chemical/pollutants are entering the air, water or land from companies – In thailand we were told by the Ministy of health of two instances when they had large leaks from facilities that caused injury and death and were not able to get information from companies or government about what gases were released. Enforcement information – We were told that the industrial estate that brings in business is in charge of monitoring and enforcement of industry Non point- what are entering not from direct sources Air Quality indicator -Method for initial pollution monitoring publicly available (including siting of monitors, dispersal modeling) Ongoing reporting of annual releases made available Permit includes publicly available pollution reduction plan Synthesized information on violations of standards Ongoing measurement of water conditions (temp., pH, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, oxidation reduction potential, turbidity)
Problems faced – information needed- This study aims to identify important aspects of effective environmental information systems, identify where those systems are lacking, and make RTI requests to push strategically for access to information. The process of identification will include the following questions: Which information is required under the law? Is information being provided in accordance with the law? Is information being provided in a timely, accurate, understandable manner free of undue influence? The first template helps assess proactive systems for access to environmental information including: Comprehensiveness of parameters monitored (on general environmental conditions and on facility-level data) Process for gathering information, including verification Availability Monitor and Track – costs, response,timelines, appeals etc
Thailand – onsite monitoring – and pollution 2011 Indonesia – PROPER and EIAs Did not address specific monitoring data or discharges or answer health realted issue – use of water ,
This sign says “ good environmental governance” in Thailand and in reporting Nox and Sox the community noted that there are always happy faces all the time. The little proactive information that is released was not trusted by the communities.. Independent audits of data from facilities and rigorous reporting requirements were suggested by community members.
In both countries request were made to 34 public authorities. State owned enterprises had the worst response rate in both countries, this was followed by local government.
Both Indonesian and Thai government authorities took a varied, wide range of time to answer information requests despite having legislated-mandated timeline requirements. Data on response time was collected for 51 requests in Indonesia and 61 requests in Thailand. Overall the number of days it took Indonesian government authorities to send an answer varied from 4 to 27 days. The average number of days for a response was 11.96 days. Despite requiring a response in 15 days, Thailand requesters took between 4 and 90 days to receive a request response, with 31 requests taking longer than 15 days before acknowledgement. The average number of days for a response was 51.90 days
In Indonesia, most of the requests submitted about the two industrial facilities were either denied or resulted in a mute refusal. In Thailand, most requests for information about facilities, in general, and the four factories in particular were granted, although only a small number of requests were submitted about each facility particular information.
In both countries despite having independent review mechanism (Office of Information Commissioners/ Tribunal) requestors catalogued difficulties in the appeal process. Over 80% of the appeals made by requestors in Indonesia were denied, including 96% of the appeals submitted by community members. This included 68 cases where the original FOI request was met with a mute refusal and two cases initially denied. Most petitions submitted for internal review, 42 cases in total, were also denied; including all of the state owned enterprises based appeals. Many of the information was refused on the basis that the information was not their own information ( did not transfer) or that they did not have the information at all In many cases, Thailand requestors who were not satisfied with the information provided did not take additional action. Where appeals were pursued less than half were granted by Thailand’s OIC, including 14 cases where the original FOI request was met with a mute refusal and 6 cases that were originally denied. In many cases in Thailand requesters choose not to continue with the appeal process.
Difficulties in using FOI laws: Community members in both countries indicated difficulties in tracking and following up on responses to requests as well as using the internal review (Indonesia only) and appeal procedures. Response rate to requests: Community members in Indonesia had their information requests responded to with a mute refusal or refused 76% of the time. While the majority of information requests submitted by community members in Thailand were granted, 40% of their requests were refused or had a mute refusal response. Difficulties in understanding information: Community members in both countries documented difficulties in obtaining easily understandable information. In both Indonesia and Thailand, communities found that technical information was often sent in response to a request which was very difficult to understand. Information in Thailand was often provided in verbal form which made it difficult for citizens to share with other community members, interpret or take action. In some cases the answers given were in English instead of Thai or Indonesian. Intermediaries were needed to explain the information in both countries. Location and Cost Obstacles to Information: Costs also played a role in obtaining information. In Indonesia the FOI law permits public bodies to charge for duplication and delivery of information. This made it unreachable for ordinary community members. For examples, a huge volume of EIA documents were only available in hard copy (not electronic) at cost. In Thailand charges can be issued for photocopying or an official’s verification of photocopied pages. In both countries a significant amount of information, relevant to their requests, was only available in main cities (Bangkok and Jakarta). This became a limiting factor in more than one case as community members could not afford the travel costs. Providing Reasons for making a request: The Indonesian FOI law requires a reason is provided for making a request and therefore in several cases, citizens were asked to explain why they needed the information. In Thailand officials asked for a reason for requests even though the law does not require this. In a few other cases, officials called or visited requestor’s homes. Community members documented in both countries that at times they felt uncomfortable contacting officials; they were often not comfortable writing requests or appeals. In some cases, community members reported they felt afraid to file information requests about specific facilities because of possible resultant intimidation if the notice was provided to the company about who made the request for information. In Indonesia, based on the practice of Information Commissioners, it is actually has been determined that the absence of reason shall not be a ground of not processing an information request or a refusal.
Despite its importance Government is not providing usable information to local communities that directly relates to their health and environment Without basic information communities find it difficult to hold companies to account- Governments are not collecting and monitoring to provide needed information to communities FOI laws implementation and enforcement need to be strengthened Transparency policies can be utilised to strengthen coorporate compliance and government capacity to do this must be built systematically.
Wri stripe regional meeting: Overview of STRIPE Findings
Strengthening the right to information for People and the EnvironmentApril 29-May 1Jakarta IndonesiaSTRIPEREGIONAL MEETINGCarole ExcellOverview of STRIPEfindingsApril 29-May 1Jakarta Indonesia
Indonesia Thailand• Tubanan village, CentralJava• Tanjung Jati B coalSteam fired power plant(AIR)• Pontang village, Serang,Banten.• Indah Kiat Pulp andPaper (IKPP) (WATER)• Indonesia Center forEnvironmental Law(ICEL) and coalition• Community of NongFab• Community of ClongNum Hoo• Both in Map ta PhutPetrochemicalIndustrial estate• (AIR and WATER)• Partners – ThailandEnvironmental Instituteand coalition
Strengthening the right to information for People and the EnvironmentApril 29-May 1Jakarta IndonesiaMethodology
How STRIPE Works• ID needed info• ID if legal mandate for collection and release• ID Availability• If info not available, file FOI Request• Monitor and track• Follow through FOI Request, incl. appeal• Advocacy strategies created by each partnerand implemented
Findings• Extensive legal provisions governing rightto information in both countries
Information was made availableproactively but it was limited inscopeThailand:- More informationreleased on pollution in generalIndonesia:-More information onenvironmental performanceFindings- Disclosure of EnvironmentalInformation Proactively
• Gaps in the way industryis regulated were found– Failure to includestandards on toxicchemicals– Limited monitoringrequirements on permits– Failure to conduct publichearings for renewal ofpermits– Failure to take action forbreach of standardsFindings
OutcomesAn increase in the use of FOILaw175 requests were made bylocal partners and communitymembersA determination of gaps anddeficiencies in national right toinformation law and practice aswell as the regulation ofpollution
Outcomes• The first assessment ofproactive release ofinformation on air andwater pollution (7categories).• The community in Seranggot the government to doan environmental audit ofthe IKPP mill• Enforcement of the right toinformation in both themediation and appealmechanisms.• Capacity Building forGovernment, civil societyand communities
• Communities need to have the space toparticipate in decision-making to use information• Pollution control is aided by citizen action andparticipation in policy, permitting andenforcement• Transparency policies are needed byGovernment and Civil society to addresspollution control compliance.• Proactive release of usable environmentalinformation is needed in both countriesLessons Learned
"Those of us who understandthe complex concept of theenvironment have the burden toact. We must not tire. We mustnot give up. We must persist "Dr. Wangari Maathai (NobelPeace Prize Laureate, 1940-2011)