Full steam ahead: Advancing environmental governance in Latin America and the Caribbean

April 5, 2016
April5_LAC
IN SESSION: Delegates at the 2nd Negotiating Meeting in Panama, October 2015

On April 5, negotiators from 20 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will gather in Montevideo, Uruguay for the 3rd Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in the LAC Region. The main aim of the process is to alleviate conflicts between the state and citizens by setting higher standards in the region regarding environmental governance by including everyone in the environmental decision-making process (especially those who are most affected).

Civil society is expected to play a critical role in the negotiations, as it has done since the beginning of the process, which is scheduled to conclude by December 2016.

"It is key that governments come to the negotiations better prepared so that the talks can move ahead at a much faster pace than at the last meeting, said Andrea Sanhueza, a Chilean who is one of the Main Elected Representatives of the Public involved in the process. "Latin America and the Caribbean need a strong convention on access rights."

Of the 20 signatories, only five are Caribbean countries.

"More Caribbean countries should take the bold step and be a part of the process to positively shape the agreement during the negotiation phase," said Karetta Crooks Charles of the Saint Lucia National Trust and an Alternate Elected Representative of the Public. "Despite the Caribbean's challenges, work has been done in some countries relating to access rights, whether through 'freedom of information' laws or provisions to ensure public participation. Many Caribbean countries are already signatories to international agreements and processes like the Post-2015 Development Agenda, and this regional process should not be seen as unrelated in the region's efforts to achieve a healthier and sustainable environment for present and future generations," Crooks Charles added.

For the first time, the negotiations will be held over four days. This is to provide ample time for negotiators to agree on the Modalities for Public Participation component in the negotiation process and to review a second version of the revised text for the regional agreement based on proposals and comments received on the first draft.

Persons interested in receiving more information on the process should join the Regional Public Mechanism at http://www.cepal.org/en/regional-public-mechanism. Thanks to the Technical Secretariat for this process, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, you can access all the relevant documents and information on the process and view a live stream of the negotiations from April 5-8, 2016 at http://negociacionp10.cepal.org/3/en.

For more information on civil society's role in the regional process, please contact:

Danielle Andrade Goffe (Jamaica)

Main Elected Representative of the Pubic (LAC P10)

dandrade.law@gmail.com

Andrea Sanhueza (Chile)

Main Elected Representative of the Pubic (LAC P10)

andreasanheuzae@gmail.com