Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Negotiate an Accord to Achieve Development with More Equality and Environmental Sustainability

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The Seventh Meeting of negotiations on a regional instrument regarding access to environmental information, participation and justice (Principle 10) was inaugurated today in Argentina.

Representatives from 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean met today in Buenos Aires to resume negotiations on a regional agreement that will enable access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters for all of their inhabitants, and the promotion of a new development pattern with greater equality and environmental sustainability.

The Seventh Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10) – which will run through Friday, August 4 in the Argentine capital, and is sponsored by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and that country’s government – brings together the nations adhering to the regional initiative for the effective application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the region, which refers to access to environmental information, participation and justice.

The meeting, which will be attended by authorities, government officials, representatives of civil society and experts from international bodies, was inaugurated by Sergio Bergman, Germán Garavano and Jorge Faurie, who are Argentina’s respective Ministers of Environment and Sustainable Development, Justice and Human Rights, and Foreign Affairs and Worship; Danielle Andrade and Andrés Nápoli, representatives of the public; Patricia Madrigal, Costa Rica’s Deputy Environment Minister; and Joseluis Samaniego, Director of ECLAC’s Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division.

Minister Sergio Bergman highlighted the importance of rights of access in environmental matters since, ultimately, they are human rights that must be preserved. “The quality of life in this single home – our planet – is at stake. It has been demonstrated that when the environment is degraded, the first thing that is actually degraded is the human aspect,” he indicated. “Nothing can be profitable if it is not sustainable. We hope that this week with the negotiation of this agreement, which hopefully will include binding protocols and not just aspirational ones, we will achieve greater institutional maturity and raise the standards of the rules of the game.”

Meanwhile, Minister Germán Garavano emphasized that the talks seek to establish solid foundations on which the environmental issue can be addressed with a cross-cutting perspective that enables the effective protection of the environment. “This meeting of the Committee faces a very big challenge. I hope that the entire region can make progress in this area so that we can leave future generations with a planet in a better state than we found it,” he underscored.

In her speech on behalf of the Presiding Officers of the Negotiating Committee – which is headed by Chile and Costa Rica, and to which Argentina, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Peru also belong – Costa Rican Deputy Environment Minister Patricia Madrigal called for governments and the public participating in the process to be proactive, strengthening a mutual dialogue that averts rollbacks and promotes an international agreement for the full application of the rights of access.

“This regional agreement is a floor for guaranteeing respect for rights of access in the region. We must do our best to promote development and create trust, legitimacy and a new type of relationship between the State and the public with regard to human rights,” Madrigal stressed.

Meanwhile, the representatives of the public, Danielle Andrade from Jamaica and Andrés Nápoli from Argentina, recalled that this process began in 2012 and that 24 countries now adhere to the declaration, with the recent incorporation of Saint Lucia. They indicated that effective access to environmental information, participation and justice is essential for democracy and the governance of natural resources. “The full application of Principle 10 is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Nápoli said. “We believe that this process is already sufficiently solid so as to be incorporated into a robust agreement.”

Joseluis Samaniego, from ECLAC, insisted that the current development model is not sustainable and that the fragile economic equilibriums, the multiple gaps and inequalities and continued environmental deterioration require new policies that prioritize equality and invigorate economic performance as well as environmental protection.

“We must move toward the environmental sustainability of development. To fight environmental vulnerabilities and tensions, the region needs to seek efficiency in resources, foster climate resilience, bet on innovative and environment-friendly technologies, and favor low-carbon economic pathways. For this paradigm shift, strong States will be needed that guarantee global and regional public goods effectively with transparency, participation and accountability,” Samaniego indicated.

“We are negotiating a unique, visionary, second-generation agreement. The process constitutes a clear example that, with the participation and commitment of all relevant stakeholders, we can build a different future. In their eagerness to achieve more just, peaceful and sustainable societies, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are not just complying with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they are also demonstrating that it is possible to give our societies greater levels of equality, dignity and well-being,” the official from ECLAC underscored.

Finally, the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Jorge Faurie, officially inaugurated the gathering and recalled that the Rio Summit on Environment Development in 1992 laid the foundations for environmental development and that, since then, 20 countries in the region have included the right to a healthy and sustainable environment in their constitutions.

“Argentina supports this initiative and invites all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to join this negotiation process so that, with the collaboration of each of them – the States parties and civil society – an agreement can be reached that will benefit the region and all its inhabitants,” Faurie stated.

The first day of the Seventh Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the regional agreement on Principle 10 included a special high-level session in which capacity strengthening for the implementation of the future agreement was discussed. John Knox, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, participated in the session as a special guest, along with other personalities.

This meeting will continue through Friday, August 4 with the negotiation of pending aspects of the regional agreement, based on the sixth version of the text compiled by the Presiding Officers of the process – the Technical Secretariat of which is held by ECLAC – which includes the proposals made by countries during the Sixth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee, held in Brasilia last March.

Media outlets are invited to attend this meeting. Journalists must carry their media credentials or IDs with them to gain access.

The gathering will be transmitted live on the Internet. More information, including the full program, is available at this link.

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