Novi Pazar, October 20, 2023
The "Importance of Access to Environmental Information for the Improvement and Protection of the Environment" workshop was held today in Novi Pazar, organized by the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia. The workshop was also an opportunity to present the current situation in the field of environmental information availability and highlight the new powers of the Commissioner in situations where environmental information is refused to the public and what are the obstacles in the realization of the right to access environmental information, that is, how to overcome them and improve the situation in that field.
The workshop brought together representatives of the Academic Community, Public Authorities dealing with issues of environmental protection at the state and local level, all interested members of the public, representatives of the Commissioner's Office, Civil Society Organizations, and journalists who report on the environment and climate change.
On this occasion, the publication "Exercising the Right to Access Environmental Information" (version in Serbian language only) was presented by Slavoljupka Pavlović, Acting Assistant Secretary-General in the Sector for Complaints and Enforcement in the Field of Access to Information related to the first pillar of the Aarhus Convention, which is included in the publication.
It was pointed out that one of the main problems is the high percentage of administrative silence of the authorities regarding requests for access to environmental information. Also, there is a high percentage of non-implemented decisions of the Commissioner's orders to disclose environmental information. Thanks to the amendments to the Law and the unblocking of the mechanisms for the enforcement of the Commissioner's decisions, that problem has been eliminated.
At the end of the workshop, the actors concluded that without access to environmental information, there is no public participation in decision-making as one of the necessities for a good definition of public policies, and the adoption of strategies and appropriate measures for environmental protection.
The event is realized within the Project "Application of the Aarhus Convention and Access to Information of Public Importance".