23/11/2020.- On November 5, the Mexican Senate approved the Bill to pass the Escazú Agreement’s ratification, for many the most important environmental agreement in history, which creates a new environmental action tool for Latin America and the Caribbean. Thus, Mexico gives access to its entry into force in the next 90 days, becoming the 11th country to reaffirm its commitment with this regional agreement’s effects. In its statement, the Mexican Senate recalled that the agreement results from a two-year preparatory phase and nine meetings of the Negotiation Committee where Mexico actively participated. The unanimous decision (66 votes) ratifies an “agreement that strengthens the region’s countries’ regulatory frameworks and encourages sustainable development with greater well-being, inclusion, and equality.”
The Agreement involves the 33 countries that are part of Latin America and the Caribbean. Indeed, for its entry into force, at least 11 states were needed to ratify it. With Mexico reaching this quota after the ratification of Argentina just a couple of months ago, the road to its implementation is finally open.
The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean can change the game’s rules. It forces governments to guarantee the right to a healthy environment, removes institutional barriers to access to information and participation in decisions, and allows a fairer distribution of development costs and benefits.
The Escazú Agreement differs significantly from others for several reasons. It is the only treaty emanating from (the principles) of the Rio + 20 Summit. It is also the first of an environmental nature signed by the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the only treaty in the world that includes provisions on human rights defenders in environmental matters, and was also negotiated throughout the process with the participation of civil society.
The entry into force of this agreement will mean a substantial change given that the current development model in the region is not sustainable. The continuous environmental deterioration, the multiple gaps and inequalities, and the fragile economic balances have created an intense conflict in socio-environmental matters. Indeed, Latin America and the Caribbean are among the most conflictive regions regarding environmental, social issues, and development disputes.
It is clear that this agreement is excellent news; however, there is still a long way to go. Of the 33 countries in the Latin Caribbean region, only 24 have signed the agreement, and 11 have ratified it. Besides, the powers behind the industries, the banks, and the corporations are quite interested in destroying an agreement that violates their interests. That is why it is necessary to promote a new paradigm and a higher level of compliance with rights and regulations, all within a framework of participation, transparency, and accountability. In such circumstances, the Escazú Agreement’s application represents in one way or another the first step towards a solution for the high level of conflict that exists. Fighting for people and the planet’s health can no longer be a risk, but rather a fundamental right that each of us could exercise.