Press Release:- Saint Lucia remains committed to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, better known as the Escazú Agreement.
In an online side event organized by the Guta Environmental Law Association, CIEL, and Earth Justice to exchange views and identify areas for cooperation between the Aarhus Convention and the Escazu Agreement, Saint Lucia’s incoming Minister for Sustainable Development, Honourable Shawn Edward asserted,
“We are meeting on the periphery of events in preparation for COP 26 on Climate Change scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland and there are many who cite the lack of political will as a challenge to the attainment of important national and international goals. I, therefore, give you the assurance that the Department of Sustainable Development and the Government and people of Saint Lucia will do all in our power to respect the principles espoused by your [Aarhus] Convention and our Escazú Agreement to use this wonderful tool for effective conflict prevention, post-conflict reconstruction and the promotion of peaceful, inclusive societies.”
Saint Lucia is one of twenty-four Latin American and Caribbean nations that have signed the regional agreement concerning the rights of access to information about the environment, public participation in environmental decision-making, environmental justice, and a healthy and sustainable environment for current and future generations. The island state has since ratified, on 1st December 2020, and joined the Technical Secretariat and the other Member States in celebrating its entry into force on 22nd April of this year. Acknowledging the Escazú Agreement as an unprecedented and powerful tool for climate action with a human rights-based approach, Hon. Edward joins shared anticipation that,
“Successful implementation of the Escazú Agreement will increase the visibility of Saint Lucia and the other islands, solidifying better outreach and fundraising for projects that give access rights to persons and groups in vulnerable situations like the elderly, the youth, women, the LGBTIQ community and persons with disabilities. Not only will it open up a door for structured assistance from donors, it will also further serve as a solid and transparent framework for regional cooperation.”
Another exciting benefit that Saint Lucia also looks forward to is in the institutionalization of cooperation both regionally and internationally including the exchange of expertise between the Caribbean Court of Justice Judges and that of the European Court; joint ventures to protect the environment and those who defend it between civil society organizations like the Antigua and Barbuda MEPA Trust and the Saint Lucia National Trust; the setting of common standards in the region for environmental protection with guidance from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and our local bureaus of Standards. The Minister updated the audience of parties and signatories of the Aarhus Convention and of the Escazú Agreement, CSOs, and other stakeholders on Saint Lucia’s progress in meeting obligations of the Agreement.
“I am pleased to say that my government is currently considering a comprehensive Concept Note which will form the blueprint for effective implementation efforts nationally. Through the enhanced program of action between UN ECLAC and the OECS Commission, Saint Lucia is already benefitting from improved data collection, monitoring and evaluation, and improved environmental information systems.”
Hon. Shawn Edward‘s keynote address on the “Benefits and Opportunities from the Escazu Agreement for Saint Lucia and the Caribbean” was delivered Friday, October 15th, 2021 during the virtual dialogue event on Cooperation between the Aarhus Convention and the Escazú Agreement to Promote the Protection of Access Rights and of Environmental Defenders.