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Source: Small Island Developing States

27 September 2019: A year after opening for signature, the Escazú Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean has garnered 21 signatory countries and six ratifications. Eleven ratifications are required for entry into force.

The Escazú Agreement, the first regional agreement on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and LAC’s first environmental treaty, emerged from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and was opened for signature on 27 September 2018. It was signed by 16 countries in the following days and weeks, and Guyana became the first ratifying state in April 2019. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines signed it in July 2019.

During a high-level ceremony on the sidelines of the general debate of the 74th UN General Assembly (UNGA), on 26 September 2019, in New York, US, two additional countries signed the Agreement (Grenada and Jamaica) and five countries ratified it (Bolivia, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Uruguay). The next day, it was also signed by Nicaragua and Saint Kitts and Nevis.

The Escazú Agreement seeks to ensure that all people have access to timely and reliable information, and are able to access justice regarding environmental matters. It also aims to: contribute to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs; guarantee environmental rights in the region; provide special protections for environmental human rights defenders; and ensure people can play a part in decisions related to environmental challenges, such as climate change, ocean pollution and deforestation.

The Agreement was one of the four environmental treaties highlighted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at Treaty Event 2019, which convened from 24-27 September 2019. Treaty Event takes place annually and promotes participation in treaties that support the 2030 Agenda.

The first meeting of the signatory countries of the Escazú Agreement will convene from 11-12 October 2019, in San José, Costa Rica. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) acts as the Secretariat for the Agreement. [ECLAC Press Release] [WRI Press Release] [Escazú Agreement Website] [Observatory on Principle 10 in Latin America and the Caribbean] [SDG Knowledge Hub Stories on the Escazú Agreement Process]

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