PRESS RELEASE – Saint Lucia officially announced that the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology is in the process of reviewing documentation and preparing a pathway to consider being a signatory to the Latin America and Caribbean Declaration (LAC) Declaration on the application of Principle 10 (P10) of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
This announcement was made by Sallyane Cotter, Legal Officer in the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology at the Fourth Focal Point meeting of Signatory countries to the LAC Declaration on P10 held in Santiago, Chile from November 4 – 6, 2014.
Saint Lucia was joined by two other non-signatory countries, Antigua and Barbuda and Nicaragua as observers at the meeting. This indicates that the process is indeed gaining traction as to date there are 19 signatories with Bolivia being the most recent.
Despite the technical jargons P10 simply promotes access rights: (i) access to information, (ii) public participation and (iii) justice regarding environmental matters.
One of the major outcomes of the highly intensive three day meeting was the Santiago Decision1 that was adopted by the 19 signatory countries of the Declaration.
This Decision outlines inter alia the commencement of negotiations on the regional instrument on the three pillars of access rights mentioned previously; the establishment of a negotiating committee of the signatory countries with significant participation by the public and in which non-signatory countries may take part as observers; and an invitation to signatory countries, non-signatory countries and interested public to continue to carry out activities and consultations at the national level about the P10 process.
Apart from negotiating the aforementioned decision, signatories, observer countries and twenty-four (24) representatives of Civil Society Organizations, eighteen (18) of which formed part of The Access Initiative2(TAI), participated in numerous panel discussions on several topics such as International Law and the Environment; Environmental Justice, Equity and the Environment as well as Human Rights, the Environment and Intergenerational Justice.
These presentations by a vast cross section of proficient speakers such as Santiago Villalpando from the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs,Winston Anderson, Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice and Danielle Andrade, Legal Director at the Jamaica Environmental Trust enabled the audience to gain a greater understanding of history and current status of the international debate on access rights.
Another insightful presentation was that of Jonas Ebbesson, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Stockholm University and Chair of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
His presentation and presence allowed participants to glean greater knowledge about the Aarhus Convention, especially its Compliance Mechanism which plays a facilitative role by outlining concrete recommendations on how to come into acquiescence, and provides capacity building opportunities for non-compliant countries.
The Aarhus Convention has 47 parties; 46 countries and the European Union and establishes a number of rights of the public with regard to the environment.
Communications and Advocacy Officer at the Saint Lucia National Trust, Karetta Crooks Charles said “It is our continued belief that this process has the possibility of minimizing social conflicts that often stem from a lack of communication between decision/policy makers and the public.
Although the process might appear intimidating, the Trust continues to encourage Saint Lucia and other countries of region to sign on to the LAC Declaration at this stage so that more Caribbean needs are included in the negotiations of the instrument that will guide the process”.
The Technical Secretariat for the LAC P10 Process is the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC).
All countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are welcomed to join the process which seeks to promote access rights regarding environmental issues. Signing at this stage ensures that the specificities of the various LAC countries are considered.