The Escazé Agreement represents a breakthrough in international environmental law in Latin America and the Caribbean by stressing the importance of public participation (active participation, access to information and justice) in the treatment of environmental issues. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 23 countries have had access to information laws at the regional level with regard to the rights enshrined in the Escazé agreement: 76% have provisions to promote citizen participation and only 20% support the implementation of defence measures.10 Mexico has one of the strongest defence rules in the region. without losing weight the assertion that the treaty is not necessary, given that countries already have sufficient national legislation to regulate these rights. 11 eleven countries have ratified the Escazé agreement, meaning it will enter into force in early 2021. It is the only binding agreement that results from Rio-20 and the first environmental agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean. In such a context and in a context where it is being questioned, will multilateralism deliver on its promises of environmental policy and democracy in the region and beyond? Following in the footsteps of the 22-year-old Aarhus Convention1, Latin American and Caribbean countries agreed on Rio-20 in 2012: After more than four years of unprecedented negotiations – the participation of civil society representatives and countless environmental and human rights experts – the regional agreement3 was adopted in March in Escaza, Costa Rica. 4, 2018. However, since its adoption in 2018, the signing and ratification processes have been rather slow, in part due to political changes in the region6, the Covid 19 crisis and the delay in ratification processes within the legislative bodies, due to the lobbying of private sector representatives and the dissemination of inaccurate arguments that may have caused confusion as to the possible consequences of this agreement for countries after its ratification7. Paradoxically, Chile, which was one of its standard vectors, did not sign or ratify the agreement. Costa Rica, which played an important role in the negotiations, has not yet ratified. And Colombia, which has also been very actively involved in the negotiations, has not yet ratified, although it has been the country that has reported the highest number of killings of environmental leaders in the world in 2019.8 The main value of the agreement lies in its multilateral nature, which provides a common framework that lays the foundations for environmental democracy in the region and promotes cooperation and capacity building between states helping the least developed countries. on the ground.
One of the most important provisions is to recognize the right of every person to live in a healthy environment and the obligation to ensure that the rights set out in the agreement are exercised freely. It provides for the adoption of legislative, regulatory, administrative and other measures to ensure the implementation of the agreement – in the decency of its own capacities and domestic legislation9 -, the provision of information to the public in order to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge on access rights and the obligation to guide and assist the public, particularly vulnerable individuals and groups. To date, 24 countries have signed 4 and have been ratified by 11 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay; More recently, Argentina and Mexico.5 The agreement will enter into force 90 days after the 11th ratification (Mexico).