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C'bean to negotiate accord on achieving development with more equality, environmental sustainability

Thursday, August 03, 2017

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CMC) — The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) says representatives from 24 regional countries are meeting here to resume negotiations on an agreement that will enable access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters.

They are also meeting in regards to the promotion of a new development pattern with greater equality and environmental sustainability.

ECLAC said it is collaborating with the Argentine government in sponsoring the seventh meeting of the negotiations committee of the regional agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Principle 10) which will run through Friday.

The meeting brings together nations adhering to the regional initiative for the effective application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the region, which refers to access to environmental information, participation and justice, ECLAC said.

It said government officials, representatives of civil society and experts from international bodies are among delegates attending the meeting.

Sergio Bergman, Argentina's Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, underscored the importance of rights of access in environmental matters, stating that, ultimately, “they are human rights that must be preserved.

“The quality of life in this single home – our planet – is at stake,” he said. “It has been demonstrated that when the environment is degraded, the first thing that is actually degraded is the human aspect.

“Nothing can be profitable if it is not sustainable,” Bergman added. “We hope that this week, with the negotiation of this agreement, which hopefully will include binding protocols and not just aspirational ones, we will achieve greater institutional maturity and raise the standards of the rules of the game.”

Germán Garavano, Argentina's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, emphasised that the talks seek to establish solid foundations on which the environmental issue can be addressed, “with a cross-cutting perspective that enables the effective protection of the environment.

“This meeting of the Committee faces a very big challenge,” he said. “I hope that the entire region can make progress in this area, so that we can leave future generations with a planet in a better state than we found it.,”

Speaking on behalf of the Presiding Officers of the Negotiating Committee – which is headed by Chile and Costa Rica, and to which Argentina, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Peru also belong – Costa Rican Deputy Environment Minister Patricia Madrigal called for governments and the public participating in the process to be proactive.

She said the mutual dialogue must be strengthened “that averts rollbacks and promotes an international agreement for the full application of the rights of access,” according to ECLAC.

“This regional agreement is a floor for guaranteeing respect for rights of access in the region,” Madrigal said. “We must do our best to promote development and create trust, legitimacy and a new type of relationship between the State and the public with regard to human rights.”

Meanwhile, ECLAC said the representatives of the public, Danielle Andrade from Jamaica and Andrés Nápoli from Argentina, recalled that this process began in 2012 and that 24 countries now adhere to the declaration, with the recent incorporation of St Lucia.

Andrade and Nápoli indicated that effective access to environmental information, participation and justice is essential for democracy and the governance of natural resources, according to ECLAC.

“The full application of Principle 10 is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” Nápoli said. “We believe that this process is already sufficiently solid so as to be incorporated into a robust agreement.”

ECLAC's Joseluis Samaniego said that the current development model is not sustainable and that “the fragile economic equilibriums, the multiple gaps and inequalities, and continued environmental deterioration require new policies that prioritize equality and invigorate economic performance as well as environmental protection.

“We must move toward the environmental sustainability of development,” he said. “To fight environmental vulnerabilities and tensions, the region needs to seek efficiency in resources, foster climate resilience, bet on innovative and environment-friendly technologies, and favor low-carbon economic pathways.

“For this paradigm shift, strong states will be needed that guarantee global and regional public goods effectively with transparency, participation and accountability,” Samaniego added. “We are negotiating a unique, visionary, second-generation agreement.”

He said the process constitutes “a clear example that, with the participation and commitment of all relevant stakeholders, we can build a different future.”

In their eagerness to achieve more just, peaceful and sustainable societies, Samaniego said the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are not just complying with the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but “they are also demonstrating that it is possible to give our societies greater levels of equality, dignity and well-being.”

In officially inaugurating the meeting, Argentina's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Jorge Faurie, recalled that the Rio Summit on Environment Development in 1992 laid the foundations for environmental development and that, since then, 20 countries in the region have included the right to a healthy and sustainable environment in their constitutions.

“Argentina supports this initiative and invites all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to join this negotiation process so that, with the collaboration of each of them – the states parties and civil society – an agreement can be reached that will benefit the region and all its inhabitants,” Faurie said.

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