Latin America and the Caribbean urged to continue progress in implementing environmental democracy

Karetta Crooks Charles addressing the opening session of the 1st COP of the Escazu Agreement

Civil society congratulates the twelve States Parties and calls on other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to ratify and join the Escazú Agreement as soon as possible, thus ensuring better protection for environmental defenders in the region .

One year after the entry into force of the Escazú Agreement, the first meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 1) of the Escazú Agreement is being held from 20 to 22 April 2022, where the rules of procedure will be defined to guide its implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean. In this context, organizations from across the region will participate in the Conference, with the aim of ensuring standards of participation that leave no one behind.

The Escazú COP is held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in Santiago, Chile. Officials from countries that are part of the Agreement, observers and those that are in the process of becoming parties are present. This is therefore a key moment for the implementation of the Escazú Agreement, since in this first COP will be adopted the rules that will lay the foundations for the effective implementation of the treaty, among which are the provisions financial resources necessary for the implementation of the agreement Agreement; the rules of structure and function of the Implementation and Compliance Support Committee and the rules of procedure of the COP itself will be considered.

Escazú – Focus on participation

Public participation in the implementation of the Escazú Agreement is fundamental; in particular, with a view to ensuring that there are mechanisms for the implementation of the treaty in an effective, inclusive and diversified manner; that is, with representation from trade unions, women, human rights defenders, indigenous organizations, youth and community organizations, among others.

Similarly, for civil society, the rules of the Implementation and Compliance Support Committee are essential to ensure the effective application of the Agreement. For this reason, we believe that the rules should ensure an adequate composition of the Committee, taking into account regional, ethnic and gender diversity, and the meaningful participation of the public in the process of presenting communications and in hearing complaints from noncompliance. Likewise, it is essential that the Committee has the capacity to adopt protective measures for petitioners who find themselves in situations of risk.

On the other hand, the rules of procedure must guarantee broad public participation, maintaining and strengthening the norms of participation that have characterized the Escazú negotiation process. The rules should ensure that public representatives have a place at the COP and with the presiding officers. He must also consider that any person registered in the Regional Register[1] The Public Mechanism can participate directly and be informed of COP meetings, have access to all information and documents in advance, and be able to transmit the proposals and contributions it deems necessary.

Better environmental and legal protection for defenders

Despite the fact that the recognition and protection generated by the Accord has begun to contribute to a shift in the narrative surrounding the defense of environmental rights, violence is on the rise. Once again, last year, Latin America was recognized as the most dangerous region for human rights and environmental defenders, with Colombia being for the second consecutive year the country in the world where the most defenders are killed, followed closely by Mexico, Brazil, Honduras. , Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. As a result, in the Amazon Basin, indigenous peoples have declared themselves in a constant state of emergency due to increasing violence and state inaction.

In this first COP of the Escazú Agreement, the country parties must accelerate action regarding its implementation. As for the countries that have not yet ratified or acceded, they must continue to work to become party to the agreement very soon. We cannot continue to accumulate such growing numbers of defenders killed, exiled or threatened. We need Escazú now.

Further information

The twelve States Parties participate in the first COP of Escazú; that is, the states that have ratified the treaty. The first country to ratify was Guyana. Other Caribbean States Parties are Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

In addition, any other Latin American and Caribbean government will be present and may participate. However, only States Parties have the right to vote, in order to adopt:

The rules of procedure for the Conference of the Parties below, including the duration of the COP and public participation.

The Escazú Implementation and Compliance Support Committee, which will be composed of independent experts from the region, and will monitor compliance with the Escazú Agreement by the States Parties.

In addition to the official program of the COP of Escazú, where these decisions will be taken, there will be side events on topics such as the situation of human rights defenders, the impact of the environment with a perspective gender, among others.

The complete program of COP Escazú is available at: https://acuerdodeescazu.cepal.org/cop1/es and the official activities of the event will be available at: https://live.cepal.org/escazu

The Escazú Agreement entered into force on April 22, 2021, 90 days after reaching the required eleven ratifications, as established by the treaty itself.

To date, of the twenty-four countries that have signed the Agreement, twelve are awaiting ratification. Moreover, in South America, countries like Chile, Venezuela and Suriname have not yet signed it. In the case of Chile, on March 18, President Gabriel Boric signed the draft adhesion to the treaty, which was sent to Congress to approve its adhesion.