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Title: Public access to environmental information and participation in environmental decision-making : a Malaysian case study
Author: Mohd Sharif, Nur Syafrina
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 2431
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2016
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Access to information, access to public participation and access to justice are recognised as the pillars of sound environmental governance, and are at the heart of environmental democracy. Collectively referred to as “environmental access rights”, they are promoted under Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and form the core pillars of a legally binding international instrument known as the Aarhus Convention. Malaysia, a developing country that has undergone rapid change, is striving to achieve its development goals through “Vision 2020”, but still struggles to balance between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of its development. By implementing transformation programmes, the Malaysian Government is displaying efforts to transition its “government-knows-best” approach into one that is more transparent, accountable, inclusive and citizen-centric. However, the findings of this empirical, exploratory research indicate that public access to environmental information and participation in environmental decision-making remain limited in Malaysia. Furthermore, the author’s investigation into two scenarios that took place in the country: 1) The Rare Earth Controversy in Kuantan, and 2) The Major Floods of 2014/2015, identified examples of how deficits in access to environmental information and public participation in Malaysia’s current system of environmental governance could arguably exacerbate such situations, and may contribute to social unrest as well as lack of confidence in the Government. Drawing from evidence of the research findings, the author suggests that Malaysia could benefit from enhanced access to environmental information as well as public participation in environmental decision-making, and thus proposes a framework to help the country progress towards achieving this objective. This research breaks new ground as it reports on recent events and developments (or lack thereof) in an area of study that has been sparsely explored in Malaysia. It is also timely as the country still faces environmental deterioration and increasing public demands for improved Government transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement. It is hoped that the research work contained in this thesis will enrich the existing knowledge on the subject area of environmental governance, specifically environmental access rights, and contribute towards promoting good environmental governance and democracy in Malaysia, the ASEAN region, and across the world.
Supervisor: Makuch, Karen Sponsor: Government of Malaysia
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral