The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have played a relevant role in the development of this vision, through multilateral initiatives that resulted in the adoption of the only legally binding agreement derived from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20), the first environmental treaty in the region and the first in the world to include provisions on environmental human rights defenders.
“The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean”, adopted in Escazú (Costa Rica), on March 4, 2018, and negotiated by the States with important civil society representatives and public engagement, confirms the value of a regional dimension of multilateralism for sustainable development.
We can affirm that this Treaty is innovative and makes a valuable contribution to democratic governance by guaranteeing the right to gender equality, a healthy environment and sustainable development centered on people and the vulnerable with an equality approach, without discrimination.
This Agreement establishes urgent priorities for environmental management and protection from a regional perspective, regulates the rights of access to information, public participation, justice in the sustainable use of natural resources, conservation of biodiversity, which contributes to greater confidence , stability and transparency in our societies.
The Escazú signature process and implementation in our countries
Legal certainty and trust in public institutions are also crucial for sustainable development.
Such interrelation and interdependence, recognized in the Regional Agreement, makes ECLAC’s first regional treaty an invaluable tool for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
This is a regional agreement because it involves countries from a specific region -in this case, the 33 countries that make up Latin America and the Caribbean-, or those that finally ratify it, which can never be less than 11 for it to enter into force.
To date, the entry into force of the Agreement is imminent. 24 countries have signed it and twelve countries have ratified it (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Saint Lucia, Argentina and Mexico).
There is no doubt that the Escazú Agreement has many opponents who perceive it as a serious threat. The defiant attitude of some state apparatuses explains the growing social polarization that exists in some countries such as Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Costa Rica.
The Escazú Agreement is an agreement signed between States, but it does not establish substantive obligations and rights between States.
The entry into force of this instrument, the first at the international level to extend special protection to those who defend the environment, is clearly urgent in the face of the effects of climate change.
The entry into force of the Escazú Agreement sends a strong message to the national and international community about our region’s commitment to human rights in environmental matters and opens spaces for international cooperation to implement the principles of development cooperation within the national plans, policies, strategies and environmental and socioeconomic programs formulated by governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) (add this). All of these actions are important contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The environmentalist movement, a symbol in lac region
Today we must defend our territory, our rights, our lands, our crops, our products, our alternative markets, our right to decent housing, to decent wages, and we will only achieve this together and in resistance. They continue to impose the extractivist and predatory model of our natural resources.
The integration of organizations of social movements, trade unions, feminists, youth, peasants, fishermen, artisans, indigenous, women, environmentalists and migrants, among others, is a process built from national and sectoral interests, the protection of local resources, human relations and solidarity between peoples and the recovery of their collective memory. They are based on democratic principles, peace, social justice, sustainable development, multicultural identity, self-determination, sovereignty, justice and solidarity.
Challenges for governments, sectors, organizations of civil society and development cooperation.
- Strengthening the environmental dimension of international policies and State commitments should be a priority for governments and state public management in the region.
- Appropriation of International, Regional, Sectoral Agreements – Escazú Agreement LAC Region – by Governments for better governance and democratic institutionality.
- Definition of environmental policies and development strategies at the national and regional, sectoral levels that allow the implementation of the Escazú Agreements.
- Creation of spaces for citizen participation in political dialogue with the inclusion of multiple actors, for the implementation of the Environmental Agenda and the Escazú Agreement.
COOPERATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
- Provide resources to governments, NGOs, sectors and CSOs for the implementation of environmental strategies, policies and programs.
- Implement South-South, multilateral and bilateral cooperation towards the effectiveness of environmental development linked to the SDGs / 2030 Agenda.
- Restructure Development Cooperation in Latin America due to the sharp increase in poverty and extreme poverty as a result of COVID-19 and natural disasters.
SECTORS, MOVEMENTS, CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS
- From the civil society networks, social movements and citizen spaces that promote the implementation of the Escazú Agreement, we urge the States of the Latin American and Caribbean region that have not yet ratified or adhered to the Agreement, to provide their countries of a robust instrument that allows progress in democracy and environmental governance.
- The environmental and climate crisis that we have suffered for decades, and more recently the COVID19 pandemic, highlights the urgency of working for the protection of nature to ensure the good health of our planet and humanity.
- Create campaigns and social mobilization based on awareness and dissemination of environmental policies and the Escazú Agreement to contribute to its implementation, with citizen oversight.
- Accompany fully informed Human Rights Defenders in the management of the environmental agenda, supporting the opening of civic spaces.
- A fundamental challenge for social movements is their reconnection with the youth of our America, to stimulate dialogue and transmit the generational experience.
by Georgina Muñoz -RENICC Director – Nicaragua -ROA-LAC Member