Details

  • Type: KPMG information
  • Date: 12/18/2013

Freedom of information law causes Ministry of Environment to be more transparent  

In Ecuador, in compliance with the Freedom of Information law and with pressure from partners, the Ministry of Environment and other agencies are making information available on forest management through improvements to their websites. On an index devised by the programme partner Grupo FARO, the Ministry of Environment showed the greatest increase of all the agencies assessed, from 22% to 79%.
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Key elements of context

 

  • Ecuador is a country with significant areas of globally important tropical forest, but where forest governance has often lacked equitable and open access to information. Frequently, decisions on forest planning and management do not include all key stakeholders, especially those who directly depend on forests for their livelihood. Ecuador's forests are under severe pressure, with an average population of 150 people per km2 of forest; three times that of neighbouring Peru and half as much again compared to Cameroon.
  • Nearly 36% of Ecuador's surface is tropical forests. Around 75% of the nation's forests outside protected areas are the property of indigenous peoples and smallholders, only half of whom have legal title. It is difficult to determine ownership of forests, because there are no complete or up‐to‐date official records. The main structural reason for this is that legal and institutional arrangements related to land tenure have always been an issue in Ecuador, with the creation and dissolution of government agencies with the mandate to adjudicate on land title.
  • Unclear tenure arrangements often lead to perverse outcomes such as disenfranchisement of indigenous and other rights‐holders; demoralisation and a decreased sense of ownership leading to reduced investment in sustainable rural livelihoods by forest‐dependent peoples; and inequitable distribution of power with a concentration in economic elites.
  • To increase transparency across the public sector, the government of Ecuador approved the Ley Orgánica de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública (LOTAIP, or Organic Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information) in 2004.
  • In the first five years of the law, there was little evidence that any authority had taken measures to comply with it except in terms of basic financial transparency. Since 2005 Making the Forest Sector Transparent programme partner Grupo FARO has monitored financial transparency, and concluded there was little apparent development of systems for monitoring compliance or specifying the obligations of authorities.