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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Latin America, Caribbean adopt ‘historic’ environmental justice treaty

After a six-year negotiation process, 24 countries have adopted the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, known as LAC P10.

Carole Excell
Carole Excell

The agreement is Latin America and the Caribbean’s first ever legally binding agreement on environmental rights, designed to protect environmental defenders, improve access to environmental information, extend public participation in environmental decision-making processes, and more. It requires governments to set new standards to achieve Principle 10, the environmental democracy principle of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

In a reaction, Carole Excell, Acting Director, Environmental Democracy Practice, World Resources Institute (WRI) and “Member of the Public” Negotiator for LAC P10, said: “Countries and civil society groups across Latin America and the Caribbean have taken a historic stand to safeguard the backbone of environmental protection: people. Violence against environmental defenders is on the rise, and Latin America is the most dangerous region in the world for them. By adopting LAC P10, governments in the region have agreed to legally binding provisions that will help prevent and punish threats and attacks against environmental defenders.

“I cannot understate how critical it is for communities to have access to environmental information, like data on local water pollution or nearby mining concessions. LAC P10 is designed not only to protect environmental defenders, but also to make it easier for people to get information, participate in decision-making that will affect their lives and hold powerful interests to account. Hopefully LAC P10 will mean fewer natural resources exploited and communities at risk.

“The agreement could impact up to 500 million people and demonstrates global leadership from the region. LAC P10 is only the world’s second regional agreement on environmental rights, and is the first for Latin America and the Caribbean. Chile, Costa Rica and Panama have been determined, innovative drivers of the negotiations, and their continued leadership will be critical in the implementation process to come.

“LAC P10 is a major step forward, but the work has only just begun. Governments must move quickly to sign and ratify the agreement, and then ensure robust compliance and implementation once it enters into force.

“One more person dying to protect the environment is too much. It’s time for countries to defend the defenders.”

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