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