Report cards are frequently used tools for systematically collecting information on development issues, which the Making the Forest Sector Transparent programme has adopted to foster greater civil society engagement in assessing levels of public access to information and decision-making in the forest sector. The programme has taken a participatory approach to developing the report cards. Although common indicators have been agreed by all of the country partners, a consistent methodology has not been imposed and the partners have tailored their assessments to their country-specific context. As a result, the indicators are not directly comparable between countries and years.
The partners collected data between July 2011 and August 2011 on 20 common indicators. Each indicator includes an 'objective' assessment of whether clear provisions exist and information on them is publicly available, resulting in a 'yes', 'partial', or 'no' overall. This is combined with a more 'subjective' assessment of whether there is evidence of change in the last year (where a report card was produced in 2010) and analysis of whether the provision enables transparent access to information and/or decision-making. Data collection was largely carried out through office-based research, for example by searching the websites of government institutions and other official sources of information, supplemented where appropriate by contacting key informants and requesting specific information.
The table below shows how the traffic lights were assessed in 2011.
Specific questions guided the determination of the existence and availability of the provisions for each indicator. In order to receive a 'yes', the provision needed to both exist in the legal and regulatory framework and information needs to be publicly available on it, whereas a 'partial' or 'no' indicator reflected that either one or the other criteria (or both) was partially or not met.
The change in the last year was assessed against the following scale:
Specific information was provided on the full titles of the applicable laws or other norms, the names of the authorities or institutions responsible for them, the dates when they were passed, and the website or other official sources where they can be accessed.
Analysis of each indicator discussed how well the legal and regulatory framework provides for transparent access to information and/or decision-making in practice. Diagnostic questions were provided to guide the partners on issues to consider, but these questions were not prescriptive and partners were encouraged to analyse the situation in their country drawing on their experience and knowledge of working in the country.
The full guidance and template with the specific and diagnostic questions are available in the downloads page. This is a self-contained document that the programme encourages other civil society organisations to implement in their own context or country.