A Tool for Public Participation and Access to Information in Environmental Decision-Making
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), the World Resources Institute (WRI) and The Access Initiative have teamed up to create Development Alert!, an interactive website that provides easy-to-understand information about proposed developments in Jamaica and their environmental impacts.
JET is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation that seeks to protect and conserve Jamaica’s natural environment through a range of programmes designed to protect natural resources, increase environmental awareness and advocacy in civil society and ensuring that environmental issues are properly considered in national development planning.
WRI is a global research organisation that seeks to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations.
Using a GIS platform, we populated a map of Jamaica with projects from 2014 onwards such as highways, housing projects, hotel developments, energy projects, water abstraction, forest removal, and mining that are likely to have significant health, environmental, social or cultural impacts. Users can click on a project to get basic information about it, including the name of the developer, its location and the status of the application or permit. The map includes the declared marine and terrestrial protected areas.
The public can use the website to access supporting documents prepared by the Government of Jamaica or the developer before a decision is made to approve or reject projects. The website provides contact information for the relevant public officials who can be contacted with questions, comments and concerns about projects. The dates of public meetings to discuss proposed projects are also on the site.
While JET will maintain Development Alert! and update it as new projects come on stream, Development Alert! has been conceptualised as a people’s platform: anyone can upload information on projects. The site also allows users to sign up for alerts on specific locations, including protected areas.
Putting access to information into action
The information that can be accessed through Development Alert! was obtained from the Government of Jamaica through requests for information under Jamaica’s Access to Information Act. It also includes publicly available sources of information, as well as “crowd sourced” information from members of the public. These sources of information will continue to be used to update the web site.
A tool to promote active citizenry and promote transparency
Development Alert! sets the stage for new ways to formally engage in the public review process for developments. JET and WRI’s The Access Initiative hope Development Alert! will also reduce secrecy in decisions made about the use of natural resources and stimulate greater public discourse and participation in development issues.
Terms of Service
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a) that map data and related content are provided for informational purposes only, and WRI makes no warranties regarding the same
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