Seminar hosted on int’l environment agreement 

-Civil servants sensitised on ESCAZU Agreement

-informed on: measures to equip them with information, judicial corrections and spaces for public participation in environmental matters

DPI, Guyana, Friday, November 9, 2018

Following the historic signing of what is known as the ESCAZU Agreement by Guyana and eleven other countries, a seminar was today held to bring awareness of the agreement’s provision for the rights of access to information, public participation and to justice in environmental matters.

The seminar held at the Guyana Forestry Commission was a collaboration between the Department of the Environment and the United Nations United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Environmental Affairs Officer of the UN, David Lamarche said that it is important that persons are aware of the stipulations and sustainability embedded in the work that they do.

Lamarche explained that “this seminar aims to create a platform between civil servants so that they raise their awareness of the rights but also so they can know each other and they can work collaboratively and in a coordinated manner. We know the environment requires a collective approach and therefore this is the main aim. So, Guyana and civil servants can know what the rights are, what they need to implement and that the international community, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean is here to support them.”

The stakeholders were also enlightened on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and its goal to give everyone a voice on the protection and development of communities. Stakeholder Management Coordinator, Aretha Forde said that the agreement is in keeping with the Government agenda for a green state.

“..by enacting this agreement, community members have a stronger and a much louder voice and I say this because the rights of communities and the right of the public to access information and to be consulted in projects that affect their homes, their lives and their livelihood are already enshrined in some of our acts and regulations; as you know FPIC is one of those processes.”

Forde encouraged the participants to grasp as much knowledge as possible from the seminar in order for them to enact the principles under the agreement. The Escazú Agreement is the only one of its kind that includes specific provisions regarding defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

The agreement seeks to ensure that all persons have access to timely and reliable information and can participate in an effective way in the decisions that affect their lives and their environments. It also expected to ensure that people can access justice in environmental matters, thereby contributing to the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Countries currently signed onto the agreement are Antigua and Barbuda, Brazil, Costa Rica, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay.

Isaiah Braithwaite.

Images: Jameel Mohamed.

Editor’s Note: FPIC – Free, Prior and Informed Consent is a specific right that pertains to Indigenous people and is recognised in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories.

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