LAC Countries Adopt First Binding Regional Agreement on Principle 10
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Negotiations on the agreement began in 2014.

The agreement enshrines the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters.

ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena said this “second-generation accord” links the environment to human rights and rights of access, and will contribute to achieving the SDGs.

4 March 2018: Representatives of 24 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries have adopted the first legally binding regional agreement to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration), concluding a negotiating process that began in 2014.

The ninth meeting of the negotiating committee of the regional agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in LAC convened in San Jose, Costa Rica, from 28 February to 4 March 2018, to conclude negotiations of the agreement, which enshrines the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters.

During the closing ceremony, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís said the agreement will help fight crime, poverty, inequality and hate, and is crucial “for the very survival of our species.” He pointed to “environmental democracy” as a new legal term that implies the participation of all in protecting the environment.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said the agreement ensures the right of people to participate in decisions that affect their lives and surroundings. She explained that the “second-generation accord” links the environment to human rights and rights of access, and can contribute to achieving the SDGs.

During the meeting, signatory countries invited all LAC countries to sign and ratify the agreement as soon as possible. The agreement will be open to the signature of the 33 LAC countries at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from September 27, 2018 to September 26, 2020. The agreement establishes the creation of a Conference of the Parties (COP), which ECLAC, serving as technical secretariat of the agreement, will convene no later than one year after the agreement enters into force and which will hold ordinary meetings at regular intervals, in accordance with what the Conference decides.

Speaking during the meeting, Miguel Ángel González, Chile, stressed that any decision made by an authority overseeing environmental matters must include a participatory analysis of what that decision means on the ground and for the populations involved. UNEP LAC Office Director Leo Heileman said the agreement provides the opportunity to give environmental rights the same legal standing as human rights at the global level.

Also during the meeting, ECLAC released the publication, ‘Access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean: Towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,’ which reviews the laws and institutional frameworks that safeguard the rights of access to information, participation and access to justice in environmental matters in the 33 LAC countries. The publication draws on material compiled by the Observatory on Principle 10 in LAC, which analyzes legislation, policies, jurisprudence and treaties that guarantee the rights enshrined in Principle 10. The updated version of the publication, which was first published in 2013, reflects recent developments and the traction they have gained in the LAC region, and includes new examples of good practices and emerging issues.

[Meeting Website] [Eighth Version of the Compiled Negotiating Text] [ECLAC Press Release on Adoption of Regional Agreement] [ECLAC Press Release on Opening of Meeting] [UNEP News Story] [Access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in LAC: Towards achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [Observatory on Principle 10 in Latin America] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Eighth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee] [SDG Knowledge Hub Policy Brief on LAC Regional Agreement on Principle 10]


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