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People have the right to play an active role in protecting their environments, and access to information is key to securing this right.
There is a great deal of secrecy surrounding the activities of corporations and their financial backers around the world. Governments too often collude with these schemes to keep illegal, unethical or simply unpopular projects and processes away from public scrutiny.
In response, communities and individuals are calling for information disclosure when activities impact the environment or people. Campaigners and citizens are making use of ‘right to know' provisions on the national and international levels; for example, Friends of the Earth Germany is suing their government for refusing to release information about the contribution of the country's Export Credit Agencies to climate change. In the United States, groups including Friends of the Earth are calling for an International Right to Know requirement, which would force companies to reveal environmental, labour and human rights information about their overseas operations.
International financial institutions are notoriously non-transparent and non participatory in their operations. In Slovakia, Friends of the Earth is working with people in the town of Ruzomberok to require the European Investment Bank to address the environmental and social impacts of its funding for a polluting paper mill.
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This page is an extract from the Friends of the Earth International publication Our environment, our rights.
The Cartagena Declaration on human and environmental rights.
Image: 'Our land is not for sale' - demonstration during UNFCCC climate negotiations in Durban with La Via Campesina. Credit: Mauro Pinto / Friends of the Earth International