Group Shot of Government Representatives; the public and ECLAC (Technical Secretariat)
Group Shot of Government Representatives; the public and ECLAC (Technical Secretariat)

Twenty-two (22) Signatory Countries and over 40 representatives of the public made significant progress at the 4th Meeting of the Negotiating Committee for a Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The negotiation meeting which was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from August 9-12, 2016, was geared at raising the standards for environmental governance in the LAC region.  

In her closing remarks, Andrea Sanhueza, Elected Representative of the Public (Chile) said, “We have been encouraged by a more open relationship between the state representatives and the public, and we have seen and sincerely appreciate the significant increase and accommodation of our views and contributions to the negotiations”. Ms. Sanhueza also pointed out that an issue of concern is the continued emphasis on including texts that reference standards established in national legislations. She said, “Such an approach is in contradiction with the progressive regional standard that we anticipate to achieve from this agreement. In this regard we urge our countries to focus on the highest possible minimum standard to ensure the effective implementation of this instrument”.
Meanwhile, Karetta Crooks Charles, Alternate Elected Representative of the Public (Saint Lucia) and Communications & Advocacy Officer at the Saint Lucia National Trust said, “It is wonderful to see that another Caribbean country has taken the bold step to commit to this process to develop better standards for environmental governance in the region. The Elected Representatives of the Public welcome Saint Kitts & Nevis and we look forward to Saint Lucia, Dominica, Guyana and all other non-signatory countries signing on at the next meeting. We look forward to supporting civil society engagement from these new countries and we also hope to see increased participation of Caribbean governments”. Grenada joined the process at the 3rd Negotiation in Uruguay in April 2016.

In his closing, the Chair of the proceedings, Ambassador Luis Omar Fernández, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dominican Republic, highlighted the unique nature of negotiations including representatives of the public. Ambassador Louis and the delegate from Mexico, Mr. Hernán Ruiz Bravo, Deputy Director General for Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked representatives of the public for their contributions.

The 5th Negotiation Meeting is expected to take place at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile from November 22-25, 2016. At this point the negotiations will resume on articles 7 to 10 and a revision of outstanding issues from the preamble to article 10 will be undertaken.