With the incorporation of Saint Lucia as a new signatory country, and with the intention of continuing to make progress in order to finalize the negotiations on a regional accord in the coming months, representatives of 24 Latin American and Caribbean countries concluded today in Buenos Aires the Seventh Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10).
The gathering, organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Argentine government, brought together the nations adhering to the regional initiative for the effective application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the region, which refers to access to environmental information, participation and justice.
After four days in which participants were able to finish the articles referring to the pillars of access to information and of participation, on the meeting’s final day they highlighted the importance of bolstering the protection of environmental defenders in the region and analyzed the strengthening of national capacities and regional cooperation. Santiago Villalpando, Chief of the Treaty Section of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, joined these discussions.
The closing ceremony was led by Marcia Levaggi, Director-General of Environmental Affairs at Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship; Carlos De Miguel, Head of the Policies for Sustainable Development Unit at ECLAC’s Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division; and representatives of the public. They emphasized the progress made in the negotiations as well as the challenges on pending matters that must be addressed to successfully conclude them.
“It was a great honor for me to preside this session. I thank all parties for their collaboration since we undoubtedly have achieved a positive outcome, with concrete progress made on the text. We are nearing the final stages in the negotiation of an instrument for rights of access on environmental issues, which is very encouraging in itself,” Marcia Levaggi said at the gathering’s closing session.
Meanwhile, ECLAC’s representative, Carlos De Miguel, thanked Argentina for holding the presidency and hosting this seventh meeting, and thanked civil society for its committed and responsible contributions.
“I also want to thank the participating delegations and enjoin them to preserve the ambitiousness of this process, as well as the dialogue to push for the regional agreement that we need so much. We reiterate ECLAC’s commitment to support countries in this initiative, which they themselves have promoted. ECLAC will always be on the region’s side. There are many stages, this does not end with attaining an agreement; countries will have to keep working afterward on its implementation and they can count on us for that,” De Miguel stated.
In the final document that summarizes the meeting’s outcomes, the delegates welcomed the adhesion of Saint Lucia as the 24th signatory country of the Declaration on the Application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and they again invited all the countries in the region that have not done so yet to join this regional process.
Furthermore, they reaffirmed that they will continue with the negotiations using flexible modes of working, including the creation of working groups and/or the continuation of existing ones, to address all the pending matters, remaining open to public participation.
In addition, the participants decided to hold the eighth meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the regional agreement on November 20-24, 2017, in a place yet to be determined, where they hope to continue making progress to shortly conclude the talks leading to the approval of this instrument.
Finally, they thanked ECLAC for its work as the technical secretariat of the process, along with the public for its meaningful participation and the Argentine government for its hospitality and efforts in organizing the seventh meeting.