April 26, 2023 — The second meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 2) to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean – known as the Escazú Agreement – concluded on April 21, 2023, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the election of the first seven members of the Committee to Support Implementation and Compliance of the treaty, and with a call by member countries to deepen its implementation, based on cooperation aimed at strengthening national capacities with that objective.
The COP 2 of the Escazú Agreement – which was an extraordinary meeting and brought together 15 delegations from States Parties, eight delegations from observer countries, 357 representatives of the public, 110 government delegates, 74 representatives of the United Nations and international organizations (with more than 600 people accredited in all) – came to a close with the adoption of “Decision II/1”, which formalizes the election of the members of the Committee, a subsidiary body of the Conference of the Parties that is focused on promoting implementation of the Agreement and supporting the Parties in that regard. The inaugural members of the Committee are: Guillermo Eduardo Acuña (from Chile); Mariana Blengio Valdés (Uruguay); Rita Leonette Joseph-Olivetti (Grenada); Patricia Madrigal Cordero (Costa Rica); Andrés María Napoli (Argentina); Carole Denise Angela Stephens (Jamaica); and Félix Wing Solís (Panama).
In addition, in accordance with the drawing of lots, the following three Committee members were appointed to a six-year term: Rita Leonette Joseph-Olivetti (Grenada); Patricia Madrigal Cordero (Costa Rica); and Carole Denise Angela Stephens (Jamaica).
Furthermore, the countries participating in the COP 2 approved a political declaration (“Buenos Aires Declaration”), 15 paragraphs in length, which highlights the role of the rights of access to information, public participation and justice in environmental matters in the promotion of human rights and sustainable development. It also reiterates the need to obtain sufficient support for the Agreement’s implementation, which includes the functioning of the Committee to Support Implementation and Compliance, and it celebrates the activation of the Voluntary Fund with a contribution from Mexico and Chile’s announcement of its own contribution.
In the Declaration, the countries also commit to continue working to make progress on the issues that must be addressed at the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 3) of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, an ordinary meeting that is due to be held in Santiago on April 22-24, 2024. They also congratulate Belize, Chile and Grenada on depositing their ratification and accession (as the case may be) with the United Nations Secretary-General, and encourage all signatory and non-signatory countries to become Parties to the Escazú Agreement as soon as possible.
Speaking at the meeting’s closing session were José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary of ECLAC (via a video greeting); Bishnu Tulsie, elected representative of the public (from Saint Lucia); and Ambassador Pablo Tetamanti, Secretary of Foreign Affairs (Deputy Foreign Minister) of Argentina.
In his message, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary indicated that “as the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres, has indicated, the Escazú Agreement represents a historic milestone, not only for our region but also for the world, by creating a regime for protecting human rights defenders in environmental matters. And in our region, we know well that protecting the environment necessitates caring for those who defend it. This is particularly relevant at this time, as we prepare to commemorate International Mother Earth Day on April 22. There is no better way to pay her homage than by honoring all the women and men who care for our environment and by reinforcing the Escazú Agreement, as we are doing at this COP 2.”
“We must remember that the Agreement puts emphasis on implementation, on the creation and strengthening of capacities and on regional cooperation, where all countries have something to contribute and to gain. In this regard, I congratulate the 15 States that are already Parties to the Agreement and I invite the rest of the countries to join this initiative,” the senior United Nations official stated.
On behalf of the public, the delegate from Saint Lucia, Bishnu Tulsie, thanked the Government of Argentina and the Agreement’s Secretariat – held by ECLAC – for hosting the COP 2. “We, the representatives of the public, are excited about having three new member (countries), and we hope that number will continue to grow by the next COP, which will be held in Chile. We also congratulate the elected members of the Committee to Support Implementation and Compliance of the Agreement, since they will play a very important role: many of the cases are brought by the public and the victims, and that is why it is relevant to develop guidelines on how the cases or problems can be brought before the Committee. There must be capacity building so that people know what the procedure is for this,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Pablo Tetamanti stressed that the participation of all the people present at the COP 2 of the Escazú Agreement is highly relevant for attaining the goal of inclusive development, “meaning development that would leave no one behind or on the outside, that would create employment and not poverty – development with social justice.”
“The Escazú Agreement is pioneering in the promotion of civil society’s participation in environmental matters, and I hold the conviction that these challenges must be addressed by including all stakeholders, in particular the voice of young people, an essential voice for building an environmental perspective. I celebrate that they have a proactive attitude in the face of the challenges posed by sustainable development, contributing ideas, concrete actions, and that the Escazú Agreement can serve as a sounding board to amplify their demand for sustainable development and a reversion of the planet’s deterioration and pollution,” the diplomat declared.
Finally, Cecilia Nicolini, Secretary of Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation of Argentina – who served as Chair of the COP 2 – stated that “in Latin America and the Caribbean, we share the need to put the environmental and human rights issue at the center of our agendas.”
“The Escazú Agreement is not only a pioneering legal instrument for environmental protection, it is a true human rights treaty. Being able to be part of this history will put us at the forefront of a true environmental democracy for our region,” she concluded.
For queries related to journalistic coverage of this event, contact:
- In Santiago, Chile, ECLAC’s Public Information Unit. Email: [email protected]; Telephone: (56) 22210 2040.
- In Buenos Aires, the Secretariat of Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation at Argentina’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Email: [email protected] / [email protected].