On the first anniversary of the adoption of the Escazú Agreement, the Executive Secretary of the organization, Alicia Bárcena, publishes an open letter in which she emphasizes the relevance of this first environmental treaty in the region.
Today, March 4, marks the first year of the adoption of the Regional Agreement on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as the “Escazú Agreement”, in reference to the municipality of Costa Rica in which 24 countries of the region concluded in 2018 six years of negotiations to achieve what today constitutes the first environmental treaty in the region.
On the occasion of this anniversary, Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) -the United Nations agency that acts as the technical secretariat of the agreement- releases an open letter in which she urges all the countries of the region to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.
“Today, March 4, is a historic day for environmental democracy in our region. Just a year ago, 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean adopted the Escazú Agreement in Costa Rica, giving a lesson to the world in terms of regional multilateralism for sustainable development, ”Bárcena points out in part of the text.
"The Escazú Agreement is a palpable example of our region's commitment to a more equal, fairer and more sustainable development," adds the senior UN official, along with calling the countries that have not yet signed or ratified it to do it promptly.
"Today, more than ever, our region requires more and better environmental democracy and a prompt entry into force and implementation of the Escazú Agreement for the benefit of our countries and their societies," emphasizes Bárcena.
Here is the full text of his letter:
March 4, 2019
Open letter from the Executive Secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Bárcena,on the occasion of the first anniversary of the adoption of the Escazú Agreement
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, March 4, is a historic day for environmental democracy in our region. Just one year ago, 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean adopted the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (“Escazú Agreement”) in Escazú, Costa Rica , concluding six intense preparatory and negotiating years and giving a lesson to the world on regional multilateralism for sustainable development.
Since it was opened for signature by the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on September 27, 2018 in the framework of the annual general debate of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Escazú Agreement has led to an important endorsement. To date, 16 countries have signed the Agreement (Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and Uruguay) and others they are in the process of doing so. I celebrate the significant step taken by these 16 countries and all those who will take it soon.
The Escazú Agreement constitutes the first regional environmental treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean and is the only one derived from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20). Furthermore, it is the first in the world to establish specific provisions for the promotion, protection and defense of human rights defenders in environmental matters. With the ultimate objective of guaranteeing present and future generations the right to a healthy environment through access to information, public participation and access to justice, capacity building and cooperation, and focusing on leaving no one behind, the The Escazú Agreement is a palpable example of our region's commitment to a more egalitarian, fairer and more sustainable development. Likewise, the agreement contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and multilateral environmental agreements, such as the Paris Agreement.
It is important to remember that the Escazú Agreement is an agreement between States, but above all, it is a pact of each State with its societies. It is a citizen agreement, made by and for the people of our region. It gathers our regional priorities, recognizes and develops fundamental democratic rights and places equality at the center of development, seeking to incorporate all sectors of society to face environmental challenges of such magnitude as climate change, natural disasters, desertification or loss of biodiversity.
The first anniversary of the adoption of the Escazú Agreement constitutes a special reason for celebration that leads us to congratulate and acknowledge all those who made this innovative collective achievement possible. This day also represents an opportunity to reaffirm its validity and invite those countries in our region that have not yet done so to sign and ratify it as soon as possible.
The signing and ratification of the Escazú Agreement will be even more significant given the important meetings that will take place in 2019 and which are especially related to the Agreement. Between April 22 and 26, the Third Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development will take place in Santiago, and between July 9 and 18 in New York, the Sustainable Development Goals on action will be reviewed for the first time. climate and peace, justice and strong institutions. In addition, from September 24 to 25, the Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals was convened at the level of Heads of State and Government. In turn, the Climate Summit will take place in September and Samoa's Path of Small Island Developing States will be reviewed. In all these forums, access rights and the Escazú Agreement will be crucial to the achievement of its objectives.
Also, on the occasion of this first anniversary, and in its spirit of supporting countries and their societies in the development of access rights in the region, I am pleased to inform you that ECLAC will launch this March 4 a renewed version of the Observatory of Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Today, more than ever, our region requires more and better environmental democracy and a prompt entry into force and implementation of the Escazú Agreement for the benefit of our countries and their societies. I invite you to celebrate this very important date and that, through the Escazú Agreement, we continue to build together a more prosperous, equal and sustainable future for our region.
A cordial greeting,
Executive Secretary of ECLAC
More information about the Escazú Agreement is available at https://www.cepal.org/es/acuerdodeescazu.