Environmental Democracy Index

An index of environmental democracy based on the state of national laws protecting transparency, participation, and justice in environmental decision-making

  • Source: TAI/WRI
  • Last update: -

The Environmental Democracy Index (EDI) was developed by The Access Initiative (TAI) and World Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with partners around the world. The index evaluates 70 countries, across 75 legal indicators, based on objective and internationally recognized standards established by the Bali Guidelines of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Legal indicators test both the extent of provisions that promote environmental democracy and the strength of a given provision in providing an enforceable legal right for the public. Each of these indicators is scored on a range from 0 (lowest) to 3 (highest). A score of 3 means that the respective provision exemplifies accepted good practice. A score of 2 indicates that a majority—but not all—of environmental decision-making includes a certain provision, or indicates moderately strong provision. A score of 1 translates to a weaker provision that grants significant discretion to government agencies to fulfil these rights, or that a right only applies to a minority of environmental decision-making processes. A score of 0 indicates that the law is either silent or prohibits some aspect of procedural rights, depending on the indicator. The overall EDI score is the average of the scores of the 75 legal indicators. The EDI also includes a supplemental set of 24 limited practice indicators that provide insight on a country’s performance in implementation. The national laws and practices were assessed and scored by more than 140 lawyers around the world. Country assessments were conducted in 2014 and will be updated every 2 years. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

Environmental Democracy Index


While EDI assesses the content of a country’s constitution, freedom of information laws, major environmental legislation across several sectors, and case law where appropriate, it does not provide a comprehensive measurement of implementation of the law, nor does it assess laws at the subnational level. Biases have been reduced to the extent possible within the adopted research method. Separate evaluations of the indicators, sources, explanations, and scores were conducted by 2 local lawyers independent of each other. These evaluations were reviewed by WRI staff, with further reviews by civil society groups in the TAI network and by governments. All of these steps help to reduce bias. However, other safeguards, such a double blind scoring by the first 2 local lawyers, were not applied. Additionally, each legal culture has approaches to legislation and its interpretation. Broadly the common law, civil law, law in the former Soviet bloc, and Islamic juridical traditions may differ in the way they approach legislation, its content, import, and interpretation. The method adopted respects these individual juridical traditions and looks only to whether the elements searched for in each indicator are present within the meaning of that country’s tradition. As such it is not possible to standardize legislative language approaches or interpretation across all countries, and local juridical approaches are present in scoring and reasoning.

Suggested citation

The Access Initiative. 2015. “The Environmental Democracy Index.” Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. www.environmentaldemocracyindex.org. Accessed September 17, 2017. Accessed through Resource Watch, (date). www.resourcewatch.org.


Access Initiative (TAI)
World Resources Institute (WRI)

Geographic coverage

70 countries

Spatial resolution


Date of content


Frequency of updates

2 years


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