On March 4, 2018 in the city of Escazú, Costa Rica, under the auspices of ECLAC, 24 countries adopted the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), better known as the Escazú Agreement.
Four years after its adoption, 24 countries have signed it and 12 have ratified it, which has allowed it to enter into force on April 22, 2021. This is an unprecedented event in the history of the LAC region, which seeks to faithfully comply with Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development almost 30 years after the Earth Summit, which demonstrated the importance of caring for and protecting the environment on the public agenda.
We believe that in the context of the rise of megaprojects and extractive models, it is urgent and necessary to provide civil society and citizens as a whole with robust protection instruments for land, water and environmental defenders. Taking into account that there are conditions of many risks and dangers due to the high numers of socio-environmental conflicts in the territories, according to Global Witness, in 2021 there were 227 murders of land defenders, and most of the cases come from the Latin American region and the Caribbean.
Next April the First COP of the Escazú Agreement will be held in Chile, where the countries that have already ratified it will meet to define the process rules and the operating and implementation provisions. Unfortunately, many of the countries in our region are lagging behind in their refusal to become a State Party, thus denying the people their legitimate right to live in a healthy environment and to sustainable development.
Community and grassroots networks, civil society organizations and all actors and sectors would benefit significantly from the implementation of the Escazú Agreement in the region, since it will broaden the environmental legislation of the countries and the strengthening of South-South cooperation.
From GCAP Latin America and the Caribbean we make an urgent call to the Countries of the LAC region that are not yet part of the Agreement, to reconsider their position and proceed promptly to finalize the accession or ratification processes, as the case may be, this must be an essential commitment to ensure present and future generations the right to live in a healthy, clean, safe and sustainable environment, as has been recently recognized by the United Nations Human Rights Council.