LAC Principle 10 Negotiations Incorporate Protections for Defenders of Human Rights in Environmental Matters
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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Civil society delegates commended the meeting’s agreement to protect those people who, on a daily basis, defend the environment, noting these efforts have “gone unrecognized for decades".

To date, 24 countries have signed the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 in the LAC region.

Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC Executive Secretary, underscored that the rights of access enshrined in Principle 10 are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs.

Pending articles in the document will be discussed at the ninth meeting of the Negotiating Committee, in 2018.

4 December 2017: Representatives from 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) resumed negotiations on a regional agreement that will enable access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters, and the promotion of a new development paradigm that prioritizes equality and environmental sustainability. During the week-long meeting, they agreed to incorporate protection for people fighting to defend human rights in environmental matters in the regional agreement.

The Eighth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Participation and Justice In Environmental Matters (Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration) in LAC convened in Santiago, Chile, from 27 November to 1 December 2017. The meeting resumed negotiations on the regional agreement using the seventh version of the text compiled by the Presiding Officers of Negotiating Committee. Civil society delegates commended the meeting’s agreement to protect those people who, on a daily basis, defend the environment, noting these efforts have “gone unrecognized for decades.”

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, via video, indicated that LAC has the “unique opportunity to agree to the region’s first environmental treaty.”

During the opening session, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, via video, indicated that LAC has the “unique opportunity to agree to the region’s first environmental treaty.” She said that the negotiation process must not “replicate the shared minimum standards” that exist today, and must “go beyond this and make profound changes to the way we relate to our citizenry.”

Also via video, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), underscored that the rights of access enshrined in Principle 10 are at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She said that guaranteeing all people these rights is critical for fighting inequality and achieving sustainable development.

Joseluis Samaniego, ECLAC, noted the efforts of Caribbean countries to attend the meeting despite difficulties faced due to recent natural disasters. He added that the negotiation process exemplifies the relevance of multilateralism and regional integration to making progress on environmental sustainability.

Costa Rica’s Deputy Environment Minister Patricia Madrigal said that the regional agreement will prevent socio-environmental conflicts, strengthen the rule of law, and reestablish equilibrium among different social and institutional actors.”

UN human rights experts, via a press release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), urged LAC governments to adopt a strong, legally binding agreement on environmental rights. In the statement, the experts called for the agreement to: clarify that States should incorporate, in environmental impact assessments, potential health impacts on people, and social impacts, including impacts on the rights to food, work, housing, safe drinking water and sanitation; strengthen the right to information, participation and access to justice in relation to large energy, infrastructure and extractive industry projects in the region funded by private, bilateral or multilateral financial institutions; and protect environmental human rights defenders, noting that in 2016, more than 100 environmental defenders were killed in the LAC region alone.

To date, 24 countries have signed the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 in the LAC region. Negotiations will continue at the ninth meeting of the Negotiating Committee, which will take place in San José, Costa Rica, during the first quarter of 2018. ECLAC acts as the Technical Secretariat of the negotiating process. [ECLAC Concluding Press Release] [ECLAC Opening Press Release] [Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Press Release] [Eighth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters] [Seventh Version of the Text on the Regional Agreement Compiled by the Presiding Officers] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Seventh Meeting of the Negotiating Committee]


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