Latin American and Caribbean Regional Agreement on Environmental Information, Public Participation, and Justice.
Environmental Law & Climate Change Department report | Latin American and Caribbean Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Environmental Justice
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (better known as the Escazú Agreement) is the first regional environmental treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean. It protects environmental defenders and ensures environmental knowledge, public involvement, and justice rights.
Buenos Aires hosted COP 2 of the Escazú Agreement from April 19 to 21. COP 2 of the Escazú Agreement was special and elected the first seven members of the Implementation and Compliance Support Committee, a subsidiary and advisory body that promotes and assists Parties in implementing the Agreement in respective territories.
Team led by Luciana Denegri, assisted by María Inés Cappelletti and Julián Ojeda
Luciana Denegri, Partner
The Agreement’s 15 States Parties and 8 observer countries were represented, including Chile, Belize, and Grenada, the most recent ratifiers. The UN, public, and social organisations were also present.
Decision II/1, which formalised the Committee’s election by consensus, prioritised equitable distribution by region and gender, and was consisted of the following members:
- Guillermo Eduardo Acuña (Chile);
- Mariana Blengio Valdés (Uruguay);
- Rita Leonette Joseph-Olivetti (Granada);
- Patricia Madrigal Cordero (Costa Rica);
- Andrés María Napoli (Argentina);
- Carole Denise Angela Stephens (Jamaica); and
- Félix Wing Solís (Panamá).
Rita Leonette Joseph-Olivetti (Grenada), Patricia Madrigal Cordero (Costa Rica), and Carole Denise Angela Stephens (Jamaica) will serve six-year mandates.
The Board may call on Born, Rubens Harry (Brazil), Carrillo Fuentes, Juan Carlos (Mexico), and Mitchell, Gavern Sherva (Trinidad & Tobago) to replace vacancies.
The “Declaration of Buenos Aires” political declaration emphasises the importance of access to information, public involvement, and environmental justice for human rights and sustainable development. It also stressed the importance of adequate support for the Agreement’s implementation, including the Implementation and Compliance Support Committee, and welcomed Mexico’s contribution to the Voluntary Fund, Chile’s announcement of a contribution, and other contributions.
María Inés Cappelletti, Associate
The Buenos Aires Declaration vowed to continue working to address the challenges at the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 3) in Santiago, Chile, from April 22 to 24, 2024.
The results of the First Annual Forum of Environmental Human Rights Defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Quito, Ecuador, were also presented. Panama will host the second forum in September 2023 to continue developing an action plan to protect environmental defenders.
All signatories and non-signatories were invited to join the Escazú Agreement as soon as feasible.
COP 2 focused on regional integration, public participation, especially indigenous peoples’ representatives, and the need to protect environmental defenders.
In the special session “Comparative experiences of enforcement and compliance support bodies,” committees of other international agreements with relevant environmental content presented their implementation experiences. Panellists stressed that elected Committee members become unbiased specialists rather than country representatives. Members must be independent, unbiased, and transparent in their activities.
In the Escazú Agreement, the importance of guaranteeing access to the system and effective participation was emphasised through the implementation of mechanisms with effective scope, the intervention or collaboration of experts with specific knowledge, and the implementation of protection measures for those at risk or threatened by the fight for environmental human rights.
Julián Ojeda, Associate
The special session on Follow-up to Decision I/6 on environmental human rights defenders stressed the need of groups and organisations acting without fear. In this regard, a Regional Action Plan will be presented at the next COP, which is currently being worked on the presentation of the draught index, which will be prepared with public participation through an open consultation process, guaranteeing maximum disclosure and indigenous peoples’ participation.
The public was invited to participate, and many indigenous peoples from different countries in the region demanded more spaces for participation and greater effectiveness, including non-virtual spaces due to connectivity issues. They requested environmental defence early warning systems from Member States. They also criticised the Committee for not being intercultural and advocated for an upgraded criminal offence for attacking native people or communities.
Notes:  Antigua y Barbuda, Argentina, Belice, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Granada, Guyana, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, San Vicente y las Granadinas, Saint Kitts y Nevis, Santa Lucía, and Uruguay.
For detailed information, as well as the picture copyright, please see the law firm’s original article here: Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean.