Saint Lucia has attended a few meetings as an Observer of the Principle 10 negotiations geared at reaching an agreement which will give citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) an opportunity to be involved from the onset in the decision-making process on environmental matters.
But today was different, as the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Sustainable Development, Ms. Valerie Leon officially announced that Saint Lucia has joined the process thereby making them the 24th signatory country to this ambitious initiative.
The announcement was made on the first day of the seventh meeting of the negotiating committee of the regional agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters in LAC, being held at Palacio San Martín, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship in Buenos Aires, Argentina from July 31 – August 4, 2017.
According to Ms. Leon, “This marks the beginning of another important step in this process, as we now commit to working towards building the capacity of our national institutions and enhancing our legislative framework at the national level, to effectively implement this regional instrument and to facilitate progress on access rights.”
Furthermore, she said, “The Government of Saint Lucia applauds the sterling efforts of the Saint Lucia National Trust. The Trust remains very instrumental in this process and the Government looks forward to continued collaboration with them, as well as other government agencies and the Saint Lucian public in general, as we remain cognizant that this is only the beginning.”
Other highlights of the negotiation included an Opening Ceremony where two of the Elected Representatives of the Public; Danielle Andrade-Goffe of Jamaica and Andrés Napoli of Argentina joined Government delegates and the Technical Secretariat for the process, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in delivering remarks.
Mrs. Andrade-Goffe made an impassioned intervention which called for better implementation of access rights. She said, “In the last five years since we began this journey, social conflicts in the LAC region have been escalating. Global Witness in their new report ‘Defenders of the Earth – Global Killings of Land and Environmental Defenders’ noted that 200 environmental defenders were killed in 2016 as a consequence of defending their land, rivers and forests from industries. 60% of those murdered were from Latin America. And while we in the Caribbean may not have as many grievous incidences, we are not unaffected. We are all one people because we are equally dependent on this planet we call home. Approximately 16 people died last year while protecting the Amazon forest from logging; the Amazon which we commonly refer to as the lungs of the earth because of the amount of oxygen generated by its lush forests. They should not stand alone when they are protecting the very air that we breathe”.
Meanwhile, Andrés Napoli said, “It is no coincidence that this process is blossoming at a time when the international community embarks on an ambitious path towards sustainable development. The full implementation of Principle 10 is undoubtedly at the heart of the 2030 agenda, since it ensures that all persons, especially those excluded or vulnerable, have reliable access to information and can effectively participate in decision-making processes, especially those in which their living conditions are affected, and that they can access justice; allowing a fairer distribution of the costs and benefits of development.”
The negotiations can be followed live at http://negociacionp10.cepal.org/7/en/node/14. To learn more about Principle 10 visit www.lacp10.org. Countries willing to be a part of this transformative process can simply contact ECLAC at [email protected]