SAINT LUCIA has joined its Caribbean and Latin American counterparts in endorsing the first-ever legally-binding Regional Agreement that will address issues pertaining to access to information, public participation and justice in environmental matters.
This landmark Agreement was adopted by representatives of 24 Caribbean and Latin American Countries, at the Hotel Continental Real III in San Jose, Costa Rica, after the final round of negotiations from February 28 to March 5, 2018.
The island’s Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development The Honourable Dr. Gale T.C. Rigobert, has pledged her support for the objectives and principles espoused in the Agreement and says Saint Lucia continues to engage in dialogue at the Ministerial and Cabinet level, with a view to ensuring that Saint Lucia is ready to institute the necessary legal and normative frameworks, to give effect to Principle 10.
The Minister says she’s very pleased about the formulation of this Agreement, as well as the consultative process in which it was forged.
Though the Minister was unable to attend the Costa Rica leg of the negotiations, her message was relayed through the island’s delegate to the Meeting, the Legal Officer in the Department of Sustainable Development, Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Ms. Kate Wilson.
“We applaud the recognition that the negotiations and ultimately this Agreement has given to public defenders of human rights in environmental matters; we appreciate your work as being indispensable to the democratic process and the successful attainment of sustainable development goals.
“We look forward to working closely with the Conference of the Parties to ensure that our commitment to implementing the various activities do not waiver…” she said.
The Agreement, which recognizes the right to a healthy environment as a basic human right, sees environmental democracy as the only means of ensuring its full implementation.
The Agreement also gives due prominence to the plight of vulnerable persons or groups who face particular difficulties in fully exercising their access rights because of conditions or circumstances unique to their national context.
It guarantees a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups or organizations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters, so that they are able to champion their causes free from threat, restriction and insecurity.
Saint Lucia, which joined the negotiations in Buenos Aires in August 2017, was very optimistic that an Agreement that was amenable to all would finally be realized.
To date, Saint Lucia has continued to engage with the Secretariat for the negotiations (and proposed Secretariat for the Agreement) ECLAC, to ensure that its input is incorporated in the many provisions.
The Agreement, which will be deposited at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, remains open to the signature of all the 33 nations which comprise Latin America and the Caribbean from September 27, 2018 to September 26, 2020, subject to the ratification, acceptance or approval of the States that have signed it.
Meanwhile, a report on the adoption of this milestone legally-binding instrument is expected to be delivered by ECLAC at its very important 37th session slated for Havana Cuba, from May 7-11, 2018.