Press Release:-Members of the Public are saddened after several of their text proposals on Articles 6 and 7 that deal with ‘Access to Information’ and the ‘Generation and dissemination of environmental information’ have been lost.
The blows came on day 2 of the Seventh Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), being held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship in Buenos Aires, Argentina from July 31 – August 4, 2017.
Danielle Andrade-Goffe Elected Representative of the Public (Jamaica), clearly expressed the public’s concerns about the regressive path the negotiation has taken. She said:
“Having a clear set of exemptions and specific types of information that would never be exempt are core elements of setting a regional standard for this access to environmental information regime, and currently we have lost these elements. The unwillingness of the countries to adopt a regional standard for exemptions is disappointing. Of course it is hard work to get an agreement and change current legislation but that is at the heart of what international negotiations is about. Not patting ourselves on the back and acknowledging what we have already done and that no further work is left to be done. We are talking about improving access rights. There are some countries where regimes may prevent access to critical information and they don’t even have mandatory proactive release. There are other countries – Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, who have no established regime for access to information. We risk losing faith in the process. Our high hopes that we had in the beginning for the realisation of a true standard have dropped considerably. We must also remember that there are others who are looking towards this process – for example other regions in the world willing to develop their own regional standards.”
Despite the feeling of gloom hanging over the members of the public from Latin America and the Caribbean in attendance, they remain resolute in their commitment to offer their expertise to ensure that progressive standards are achieved at the end of the Principle 10 negotiations.
However, their will is not enough and as such governments must show the political fortitude needed to move the process forward. The heart of Principle 10 is the protection of the rights of access to information, participation and justice on environmental matters for the approximately 650 million people who call the LAC region their home and rely on their environment for their livelihood and very survival.