”I’m so thrilled that our Cabinet of Ministers has endorsed and adopted our Concept Note”, announced Saint Lucia’s National Focal Point for the Escazu Agreement, Kate Wilson in an April 7th interview on the National Television Network.
This development comes on the heels of the inaugural Escazu Agreement Conference of Parties and the International Day of Mother Earth observance later this month.
The Government of Saint Lucia became the twelfth signatory to the Escazu Agreement back in 2018 and approved ratification on December 2nd, 2020.
Endorsement and adoption of the Concept Note by Cabinet Conclusion 177 of 2022 is another demonstration of Saint Lucia’s lead in efforts to mainstream access rights to environmental information and justice, swiftly taking steps to put the legislative and institutional framework and the public awareness and sensitization in place to ensure optimal realization.
Wilson, who was instrumental in drafting the approved Concept Note explained, “Our concept note is the blueprint for how we are going to implement the provisions of the Escazu Agreement. Over the Easter holidays last year I sat down and I went through with a fine-tooth comb to see what it is that we need to do at the national level to ensure that we effectively implement this Agreement.”
Implementation of this Agreement which embodies cooperation and capacity building will see the review of the legislative, institutional, and procedural frameworks on the island.
“The Agreement is very clear on what should be in place,” said Wilson, “it has the establishment of a pollutants register, it has the *NEIS, it also speaks to having independent oversight mechanisms, all of that is in that concept note.”
Implementation of the Escazu Agreement as per the Concept Note will receive continued
support from the Technical Secretariat to the Agreement which is the United Nations
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC) headquartered in
Santiago de Chile.
A review of local legislation to facilitate implementation has since been conducted by the World Resources Institute (WRI).
”We need the approval of Cabinet because these are national arrangements that we are going to put in place.” added Wilson, “We are going to have to look at our constitution to ensure that it includes access rights; if we are going to amend our legislation to ensure it is very clear on access rights provisions, we need Cabinet’s approval for that. A lot of the establishments and procedural and institutional frameworks that we needed to do, we need the approval of the highest authority, which is why that Concept Note endorsement was so very important.”
With a progressive update to report, Wilson will accompany Permanent Secretary of the
Department of Sustainable Development, Anita Montoute to the first-ever Escazu Agreement Conference of Partiesin Chile this week from April 20th-22nd 2022.
About Escazu Agreement
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, is commonly termed “The Escazu Agreement” because it was adopted and endorsed in the Costa Rican town, Escazu.
This Agreement is the only treaty emanating from the Rio + 20 Conference which fulfills the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development as well as the first environmental and human rights treaty of the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC) which contains provisions for the protection of environmental defenders.
The Agreement seeks to guarantee the rights of every person to live in a healthy environment and to sustainable development, being ever guided by the principles of equality, non-discrimination, inter-generational equity, and the balancing of economic, social, and environmental concerns.
It also seeks to deepen environmental governance by strengthening community engagement in environmental stewardship, the generation and access to environmental information, and the prevention and remedy of environmental harm.
The Escazu Agreement entered into force on April 22nd, 2021 after being ratified by Saint Lucia and eleven other signatories. The agreement was approved in 2018 by the UN’s Economic Commission for LAC after six years of negotiation.
Source: Department of Sustainable Development. Headline photo: Kate Wilson – Legal Officer, Department of Sustainable Development National Focal Point – Escazu Agreement