Today, in the organization of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection and the Government Accountability Initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an online Forum on Free Access to Information of Public Importance was held ;- "Environmental Information - How Hard is it to Get It? ” in order to point out the importance of the right to free access to information of public importance in the field of environmental protection.
"This topic, of vital importance for all citizens of the Republic of Serbia, is especially important at a time of increasing environmental threats, and thus access to information related to environmental threats and protection, in addition to being recognized as particularly important in the law, has also high priority in the work of the Commissioner. This Forum significantly contributes to the exchange of experiences with domestic and international experts in this field, as well as with representatives of associations engaged in environmental protection and journalists," said Milan Marinovic, Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection. Speaking on this topic, Commissioner Marinovic thanked the USAID Government Accountability Initiative, the Commissioner's long-term project partner, who recognized the need to organize this Forum.
"Free access to information of public importance is a precondition for good governance. Easily accessible, understandable and usable environmental information enables more efficient participation of citizens in public governance and better decision-making by state bodies," said Jacqueline Williams Bridges, Director of the USAID Government Accountability Initiative. She also stressed that civil society organizations and journalists can make a special contribution to the efforts of Commissioner's Office to ensure the effective exercise of the right of access to information of public importance, and to keep the public well informed and have a better quality of life.
The representatives of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the OSCE Mission to Serbia, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, the European Environmental Bureau, international experts from Montenegro and Croatia, civil society organizations, and media representatives participated in the dialogue on the right to free access to information of public importance, who presented their experiences, practice, numerous challenges in the application of this law in the field of environmental protection.
The participants agreed that transparent work of all government bodies and faster publishing of information on environmental protection is necessary, and that it is also vitally important to define long-term goals in terms of democratization, digitalization and education of citizens and government representatives in this area. Proactive disclosure of information and active participation of both civil society organizations and the media was also marked as highly important.