By Daniel Barragan (Posted: February 20, 2013)
In the context of Rio+20, a number of civil society organizations, most of which form part of The Access Initiative (TAI), came together to advocate countries in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region to advance on access rights. As a result, at Rio+20 eleven governments issued a formal declaration and publicly signaled their support for development of a regional instrument to strengthen access to information, public participation, and access to justice in sustainable development decision‐making. The Governments include Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
The signatory governments also committed to drafting and implementing a Plan of Action 2012-14, to work towards an international instrument. The UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) is serving as the technical secretariat for the process.
The participation of civil society in the elaboration of an LAC Principle 10 instrument is essential to the process of elaboration. Civil society’s participation would ensure that the instrument is capable of actually strengthening public institutions in the region, with a view to ensuring the realization of access rights. The participation of civil society is also important to ensuring the legitimacy of the instrument and thus its viability as a tool to strengthen environmental governance for sustainable development.
The process of elaboration of the LAC Principle 10 Instrument is just beginning, and that means that there is ample opportunity for civil society to help shape every aspect of the instrument, including the form of the instrument, e.g., a legally binding convention.
Governments have committed to a participatory process, but this commitment will not materialize if civil society lacks the actual capacity to participate in the relevant meetings of the process. The project thus contemplates several strategic objectives and components to enable meaningful civil society participation.
In this context The Access Initiative, through its Core Team member, Centro Ecuatoriano de Derecho Ambiental (Ecuadorian Center for Environmental Law) and the support of the Center for International Environmental Law submitted a proposal to the Norwegian Agency of Cooperation, NORAD on January 31st, 2013.
The project’s goal is to enable civil society’s participation in the process of elaboration of the LAC Principle 10 instrument, and the expected result is a strong instrument that can ensure meaningful participation of local communities and other stakeholders in decision-making process regarding natural resources.
Attached is the Declaration of P10.