One More Caribbean Country Takes the Bold Step To­wards Im­prov­ing En­vi­ron­men­tal Gov­er­nance

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The first day of the Fifth Ne­go­ti­at­ing Com­mit­tee Meet­ing of the Re­gional Agree­ment on Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion, Par­tic­i­pa­tion and Jus­tice in En­vi­ron­men­tal Mat­ters in the Latin Amer­ica and Caribbean (LAC) started on a high note as Do­minica signed on to this im­por­tant process geared at im­prov­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal gov­er­nance in the re­gion. Mr. Lloyd Pas­cal, Di­rec­tor of the En­vi­ron­men­tal Co­or­di­nat­ing Unit in the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment of Do­minica, made the an­nounce­ment. Do­minica, which is the 23rd sig­na­tory to the Dec­la­ra­tion, joins fel­low ne­go­tia­tors at the Eco­nomic Com­mis­sion for Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean’s (ECLAC) head­quar­ters in San­ti­ago, Chile to con­tinue ne­go­ti­a­tions from Novem­ber 21-25, 2016.

In her ad­dress at the open­ing ses­sion, Ms. An­drea San­hueza, the Elected Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pub­lic – Chile said, “The world is chang­ing at an un­prece­dented pace. Many of the lead­ers com­ing to power in var­i­ous parts of the world are much less in­ter­ested in and will­ing to de­fend the en­vi­ron­ment, pro­tect hu­man rights, strengthen com­mu­ni­ties or em­power cit­i­zens. That is why reach­ing a com­pre­hen­sive and bind­ing agree­ment is a task that can no longer wait. We call on you (gov­ern­ments) to act promptly and have an agree­ment signed at the end of 2017. This agree­ment is from and for our re­gion.”

Mean­while, ac­cord­ing to the Al­ter­nate Elected Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Pub­lic – Saint Lu­cia, Mrs. Karetta Crooks Charles, “Only a small per­cent­age of coun­tries pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties to par­tic­i­pate early in the scop­ing or plan­ning stages of projects. Par­tic­i­pa­tion has been shown to build trust in de­ci­sions made by pub­lic of­fi­cials and of­fers a path to bet­ter, more ef­fi­cient, in­clu­sive de­ci­sion- mak­ing. Prop­erly de­signed timely pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion where en­gage­ment in­cludes mean­ing­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­form de­ci­sions can not only help avoid costs and re­duce risks, it can also in­crease the un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal con­cerns and es­tab­lish pro­duc­tive on­go­ing en­gage­ment prac­tices that en­sure the ben­e­fits of eco­nomic devel­op­ment reach the most vul­ner­a­ble.”

Also ad­dress­ing the open­ing were the Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­ment of Chile, Mr. Pablo Badeneir and ECLAC’s Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Mrs. Ali­cia Bárcena. In essence they noted that the P10 ne­go­ti­a­tions pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity for us to re­think our de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cesses and that our re­gion can be the pro­tag­o­nist of this peo­ple cen­tered ap­proach to en­vi­ron­men­tal gov­er­nance, where cit­i­zens are ac­tive sub­jects in­stead of ob­jects. Ad­di­tion­ally, Mrs. Bárcena said this process con­nects en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues with hu­man rights and re­de­fines the re­la­tion­ship be­tween gov­ern­ments, pri­vate sec­tor, civil so­ci­ety and the pub­lic.

ECLAC also re­vealed a cre­ative tool called “Ob­ser­va­tory on Prin­ci­ple 10 in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean”. This plat­form, which will be launched in about 2 weeks, will share in­for­ma­tion on laws, poli­cies and rul­ing of en­vi­ron­men­tal courts re­lated to Prin­ci­ple 10. This amaz­ing tool even shows the con­nec­tion be­tween in­ter­na­tional agree­ments, like the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals and the Cli­mate Change Paris Agree­ment and Prin­ci­ple 10. This is es­sen­tial con­sid­er­ing that the UNFCCC and the SDGs, like Prin­ci­ple 10 all have their ori­gins in the Rio Dec­la­ra­tion on En­vi­ron­ment and Devel­op­ment.

Do­minica is now the lat­est sig­na­tory to the LAC Prin­ci­ple 10 Dec­la­ra­tion, leav­ing Saint Lu­cia as the sole non-sig­na­tory from the Eastern Caribbean.

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