Why is environmental information important?

Effective climate and environmental protection can only succeed if we have sound and objective knowledge about our environment. Only in this way is it possible for citizens and environmental associations to participate effectively in public participation in environmentally relevant decision-making processes and to assert their rights. Unhindered access to environmental information is an essential building block for a democratic, transparent and citizen-friendly environmental administration. The Federal Environmental Information Act (UIG) has been in force for more than 20 years and its revised version for more than ten years. With it, Germany is implementing the corresponding requirements of the Aarhus Convention and the EU Environmental Information Directive at federal level.

Access to environmental information

However, the actual implementation of the requirements of the Environmental Information Act is multifaceted and often the actual access to environmental information is not as effective as it could or should be. The hurdles are sometimes more, sometimes less evident, which is why one focus of our projects is on an interdisciplinary evaluation of access to environmental information. We carry out corresponding analyses and evaluations at both national and international level.

Our projects make it possible to identify and overcome specific problems. Based on the results, a discourse will be initiated between authorities, environmental activists, journalists and other stakeholders.

The role of digitization in environmental information

Digitalization also plays an important role here. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of the digital availability of information. However, access to environmental information in Germany is highly fragmented and only partially available in digital form. Since 2018, there has only been a legal obligation to publish planning and approval procedures on the internet. The European Commission has criticized this fragmentation and suggested that centralized national access to environmental information should be established where feasible.

Contact person

Tom Witschas

Environmental law & participation
Fully qualified lawyer (Ass. iur.)
Project manager

Phone: +49 (0) 304284993 35
E-Mail: tom.witschas@ufu.de

Publications

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Current UfU projects in this field:

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Our work on the Aarhus Convention:

Interview Prof. Schomerus

The Aarhus Convention - simply explained.