Press Release:– The Government of Saint Lucia has made good on its resolve to make access rights to environmental information, public participation and justice for all Saint Lucians a top priority, with Cabinet’s approval of the ratification of the Escazú Agreement.
After two years of robust public consultations nationwide, the island has, by Cabinet Conclusion No.1447 of 2020, approved ratification of the very first environmental human rights treaty of its kind in Latin America and the Caribbean, which it became a signatory to on September 27, 2018.
With the second meeting of signatory countries to this Agreement scheduled to convene soon in St John’s Antigua, from December 9-10, all efforts are being made to ensure that Saint Lucia completes ratification of this significant Agreement.
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean is better known as “The Escazú Agreement, having been endorsed and adopted at Escazú, Costa Rica on March 4, 2018.
It 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 treaty of the Latin American and 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 human rights defenders.
The Agreement requires each participating state 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, intergenerational 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.
With 11 countries having now ratified and Saint Lucia to follow suit, the Agreement will now come into force. Its implementation which embodies cooperation and capacity building, will see the review of the legislative, institutional and procedural frameworks on the island.
The World Resources Institute (WRI) has already begun this review to assist in the implementation of the Agreement, in three countries including Jamaica and Saint Lucia.
The upcoming second meeting of signatory countries to the Escazú Agreement will showcase the progress made by Member States to ensure effective implementation of the Agreement and the prioritization of environmental access rights, decide on the issues to be discussed at the first Conference of Parties (COP) and celebrate International Human Rights Defenders Day.
Minister with responsibility for Sustainable Development, Honourable Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert is hopeful that the ratification of the Escazú agreement will signal to all Saint Lucians the government’s unwavering commitment to sustainable development, human rights and environmental justice for all.