The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) celebrated today the prompt entry into force of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean – known as the Escazú Agreement – and it highlighted the region’s commitment to protecting sustainable development and human rights.
With the instruments of ratification of the United Mexican States and the Argentine Republic deposited at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the number of States Parties needed for the Agreement to enter into force was attained today, January 22, 2021. As set forth in Article 22 of the treaty, once the established requirements are met, the treaty will enter into force in 90 days, which is to say on April 22, 2021, a date coinciding with International Mother Earth Day.
“Today Latin America and the Caribbean celebrates its commitment to sustainable development and human rights. At a time when the global and regional situation is marked by great complexity and uncertainty, the Escazú Agreement is more necessary than ever because it bolsters the culture of dialogue and consensus to move ahead on the transformations needed to ensure that the recovery occurs within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” stated Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary.
The senior United Nations official participated in the Ceremony of Deposit of the Instrument of Ratification of the Escazú Agreement by Mexico, which was led by Martha Delgado, that country’s Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights.
In her remarks, Alicia Bárcena emphasized that today, January 22, 2021, is a historic day for Latin America and the Caribbean.
“For me, this is a historic day! Today is a day of festivity, because we are celebrating a step forward on implementation of the Escazú Agreement, the negotiation of which was inclusive, participatory and transparent. This is very encouraging,” ECLAC’s highest authority affirmed.
She highlighted that the Escazú Agreement is the first in the world to include provisions about human rights defenders in environmental matters – those who give their lives for life.
Alicia Bárcena recognized the strong commitment of the governments of Mexico and Argentina, which today became States Parties to the Agreement, and she highlighted the other 10 countries that ratified it earlier and made it possible for the Escazú Agreement to go into effect next April 22: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Uruguay.
In addition, she expressed her conviction that more countries from the region will join the treaty soon.
“I am optimistic. Latin America and the Caribbean is a culturally, socially and environmentally rich region. Its natural heritage is extensive and there are many opportunities for a transformative recovery with equality and sustainability that would bring greater well-being to our peoples,” Alicia Bárcena underscored.
Undersecretary Martha Delgado, meanwhile, reaffirmed the Mexican government’s commitment to the treaty’s implementation and stressed that the Regional Agreement is an important tool for giving a voice to young people, indigenous peoples, women, persons with disabilities and vulnerable communities.
“This is a right that we environmentalists have pursued for years,” she emphasized.
The Escazú Agreement is the Latin America and Caribbean region’s first environmental treaty, the only binding agreement adopted thus far that has emerged from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), and it is the first in the world to contain provisions on human rights defenders in environmental matters.