Latin American and Caribbean Countries - LAC P10
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
In the Plan of Action of Guadalajara, Mexico, (2013) 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. Robust systems on transparency, accountability, participatory consultative processes and systems for handling grievances and protests are still needed across the region. The process has achieved more than 2,000 legal and natural persons registered in the Regional Public Mechanism created by ECLAC. Significant support is needed to broaden engagement in this political process from the public in all participating countries in the region and to develop a strong negotiation and communications strategy to support the achievement of a legally binding instrument that will raise standards in the region for access rights, opening of civic space and the protection of environmental defenders.
At the Fourth Meeting of the Focal Points of the Signatory Countries of the Declaration on the Application of Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean, held on 4 to 6 November 2014, the signatory countries adopted the Santiago Decision in which they agreed to invite the public to designate two representatives to maintain a continuous dialogue with the Presiding Officers. To honour the aforementioned commitment set forth in the Santiago Decision, two representatives of the public and four alternates were elected on the basis of the proposals received from the public on the modalities of the election of such representatives.
Election of the Regional Public Mechanism representatives was held in March 2015. Two main and four alternate representatives were elected, 3 women and 3 men from Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Jamaica, Mexico and Saint Lucia. Their period ends in March 2017.
ECLAC, civil society groups and the governments of Chile and Costa Rica participated in the Fifth Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention in June 2014. The LAC process gained political support from the Aarhus Parties. It received a strong support from the UN Human Rights experts through a declaration signed in October 2015 requesting governments to agree on a legally binding instrument with robust provisions on access rights. Negotiations started in Panama last October 2015 (27th-29th) with the significant participation of the public. 30 representatives of NGO’s from 18 countries participated in the meeting.
The primary function of the representatives is to serve as liaison and maintain continuous dialogue with the Presiding Officers for the Regional Agreement on Principle 10. Being a representative of the public also involves educating and communicating with the public and fundraising to support the involvement of the public in this regional process; communicating with the public to inform them about the regional process and to channel the public comments, proposals and observations to the Steering Committee and the Negotiating Committee.