Broad, open and inclusive public participation has become a hallmark of recent international negotiation processes related to sustainable development. Public participation has been a salient characteristic of the negotiation process 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 regional agreement, in reference to Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development) that stemmed from the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The participation of the public is not only at the core of the rights of access rights themselves, but has also been included by the countries in the documents agreed to date during the negotiation process.1 Countries have, therefore, acknowledged the participation and the fundamental role of the public in environmental protection and the effective implementation of access rights and have recognized its significant participation in the negotiations.
To provide an opportunity for the interested public and civil society actors from Latin America and the Caribbean to learn about this ongoing negotiation process and strengthen their capacities to actively engage in it, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Government of Panama organized a workshop on the margins of the Second Meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Principle 10 regional agreement held in October 2015 in Panama City. Given the importance of the access to justice pillar, renowed legal experts from the region were invited to provide their views on environmental justice and its links with access rights for sustainable development in a special panel.