(18 April 2013) On Wednesday 17 April in Guadalajara, Mexico, a group of Latin American and Caribbean countries approved a 2014 action plan to make progress towards the conclusion of a regional agreement or other instrument to advance the full implementation of the rights of access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Speaking at the closing ceremony attended by government officials and many experts from civil society and United Nations agencies, ECLAC Executive Secretary, Alicia Bárcena said "At the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, we are convinced that the aim of full implementation of Principle 10 is transparency, justice and access to information for deeper social equality and democracy, as well as the removal of local and global asymmetries".
The Second Meeting of Focal Points of the signatories of the Declaration on the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was opened on Tuesday 16 April in Guadalajara, was organized by ECLAC and the Government of Mexico (with the support of the state of Jalisco).
The Declaration on the implementation of Principle 10 has been signed by the following 14 countries: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay. Two of these countries (Honduras and Colombia) signed the Declaration at the Guadalajara meeting.
Ms. Bárcena -who closed the meeting alongside the Mexican Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, and the Secretary of Social Integration and Development of the state government of Jalisco, Salvador Rizo Castelo- stated "Informed participation of citizens in the early stages of decision-making on environmental matters helps to prevent very costly and sometimes irreversible disputes".
The Action plan agreed in Guadalajara is the result of the Declaration on the implementation of principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, signed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 in Brazil. Signatory countries undertook to formulate and implement an action plan for 2014, with the support of ECLAC as secretariat.
The plan contains a series of actions to be implemented by 2014, including promotion of the Declaration and incorporation of new signatories; boosting and highlighting regional progress in rights of access to information, participation and justice; promoting the active participation of civil society at the national level; and making progress towards creating a regional instrument thanks to two working groups: one on capacity-building and cooperation and another on rights of access to information, consultation and the regional instrument. This will involve workshops and the exchange of good practices to encourage cooperation among countries.
The ECLAC document Access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean: situation, outlook and examples of good practice was also presented in Guadalajara to contribute to delegates' discussions.
Lastly, the ECLAC Executive Secretary underscored the Commission's commitment to continue fulfilling the undertakings contained in the Declaration on the implementation of Principle 10. She said this process had two paths, one involving training and the other involving the drafting of legal instruments considered necessary to guarantee citizens' rights to information, participation and justice in environmental matters.
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