SANTIAGO, Chile (CMC) – The Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) and the Caribbean says representatives from 22 countries have begun a new round of negotiations here aimed at strengthening regional democracies.
ECLAC said the prospective agreement will ensure access to information, participation and environmental justice, recognising the importance of cooperation between the State, the private sector and citizens on the road to sustainable development, “with equality at the centre of the agenda”.
The Fifth meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10), organised by ECLAC and the Government of Chile, will end today.
It is being attended by ministers, deputy ministers, high-level government officials, and representatives of the public involved in the process and international experts.
ECLAC’s executive secretary, Alicia Bárcena, stressed that democracy, good governance and the rule of law are essential for sustainable development.
“Our region can be the protagonist of a unique agreement that does not address a specific environmental issue but rather links the environment to human rights and redefines traditional relations between the State, the private sector and civil society,” she said.
“The delegates assembled here have a historic opportunity to change the pattern of decision-making,” she added. “Our democracies are in crisis and need to be rethought.
“In a scenario of global uncertainty and mistrust, today more than ever the countries of our region should advance together in collaboration toward sustainable development,” Bárcena continued. “Sustainability with equality is the other face of democracy. For this reason, citizens should be active agents of change: nothing about us without us.”
Meanwhile, ECLAC said the representatives of the public, Andrea Sanhueza and Karetta Crooks, expressed the need for a binding agreement on environmental issues, hopefully to be achieved by the end of 2017 at the latest.
“Commitment from you and your governments is necessary today more than ever: to achieve a balanced, harmonious and sustainable coexistence between economic growth and sustainable development, we must create modern legislation that responds to the challenges of the 21st century in our regional context,” they said.
ECLAC said the first day of the Fifth Meeting of the Negotiating Committee on the Regional Agreement on Principle 10 included a high-level segment with the participation of the Deputy Ministers of Justice, Environment and Agriculture from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and St Kitts and Nevis.
At the meeting, ECLAC said authorities reaffirmed that the participation of all stakeholders, especially communities and civil society, is essential for democracy, as dialogue is essential to restoring trust and environmental governance.
“Only with greater access to environmental information, participation and justice will we have the opportunity to make better public policies,” they stressed.
Among other activities, the meeting included a Round table on Environmental Justice and Access Rights for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, organised by ECLAC in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and attended by judges and Supreme Court justices from Argentina, Brazil, the Caribbean and Chile.