Latin American and Caribbean Countries - LAC P10
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
Principle 10 - otherwise known as the environmental democracy principle- was adopted 1992 as a part of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. The regional process towards the adoption of a regional agreement on Principle 10 began in 2012, with the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean adopted in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. In this Declaration, signatory countries committed, with the support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as technical secretariat, to advance the implementation of a regional agreement for the full implementation of the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.
Between 2012 and 2014, four meetings of the focal points of the signatory countries and fourteen meetings of working groups were held. In November 2014, the countries launched the negotiation phase of the regional agreement and established a Negotiating Committee with a view to concluding its functions by December 2016.
Rio +20 has as one of its two main themes, “strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development.” This theme raises the opportunity for the international community to move forward significant reforms in international environmental governance (IEG) – the institutions and procedures through which governments set and implement international environmental law and policy. IEG decisions a ect all three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. In order to build public support for IEG reforms, these reforms should lead to new opportunities for civil society to perform four key roles in environmental decision-making: to observe, inform, shape policy, and engage. Such opportunities improve the legitimacy, quality, and sustainability of IEG decisions through greater collaboration and cooperation. (http://www.unep.org/civil-society)
Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development seeks to ensure that every person has access to information, can participate in the decision-making process and has access to justice in environmental matters. A regional agreement to implement this principle fully and effectively with the significant participation of the public is being negotiated in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the Plan of Action of Guadalajara, Mexico, the signatory countries of the Declaration agreed to establish a Regional Public Mechanism. The main objectives of this Mechanism are to keep all those interested in the process informed and facilitate their involvement; to coordinate public participation in international meetings; and to contribute to the transparency of the process. The Mechanism may also serve as a complement for participation actions carried out at the national level.
The Declaration currently has 21 signatory countries in this regional process and is open to all countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Three fundamental rights as key pillars of sound environmental governance
Access to Public participation
Is increasingly being seen as a vital part of addressing environmental problems and achieving sustainable development by encouraging governments to adopt policies and enact laws that take community needs into account.
Access to information
Empowers citizens and incentivizes them to participate in decision and policy making processes in an informed manner.
Access to justice
Provides the foundation of the “access rights”, as it facilitates the public’s ability to enforce their right to participate, to be informed, and to hold regulators and polluters accountable for environmental harm.