The first day I met my boss, he was explaining some of his areas of interest and some of the things that CEDHA might be working on in the future. Before getting too far into any of the projects though, he stated, “the projects we work on are the ones that get funded.” That idea truly came to life when we went to lunch with one of CEDHA’s founders and he told us about how the organization came into being. CEDHA’s founding partners had formed connections to the first environmental lawyer to successfully argue that environmental rights were, in fact, human rights. Though this may seem like a simple concept, it wasn’t one that took off until the 1990s, and CEDHA was one of the first organizations dealing with the intersection between human and environmental rights. It wasn’t always easy to get funding for projects in that vein either; CEDHA’s first funding came from NASA and was meant to explore possible ways to use satellite images in environmental law. Things at CEDHA have come a long way in the 12 years since that first project. So....what are we working on right now?
I work on the International Financial Institutions team at CEDHA. We deal primarily with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the IFC and look at their policies from both an environmental and a social point of view. All three banks recently changed their Access to Information Policies so we’re working on a monitoring project to see if the new policies are being implemented in Latin America and if enough information about the policies is being diffused so that people and communities affected by bank-financed projects know their rights and how to access the relevant information. We’re currently compiling a survey of ONGs, communities and bank officials about how the Access to Information Policies are working at a regional level. Hopefully, we’ll have enough information collected to analyze the results and present preliminary findings at the World Bank’s Annual Meeting this September in Washington D.C.
I’m also working on a reflection paper about the general trends and changes in the three Banks’ Access to Information Policies over time. It’s been slow going though, because the Banks’ older Access to Information Policies aren’t available. Oh the cruel, cruel ironies of life at an international non-profit!