Environmentalists to get protection

LOCAL environmentalists can expect to enjoy physical protection, access to information and the right to participate in decision-making, thanks to a regional environmental pact involving TT, the Ministry of Planning and Development said in a statement yesterday.

Signed last Sunday at Costa Rica, the treaty covers the nations of the Caribbean and Latin America, under the umbrella of the United Nations and its agency ECLAC.

“It is the first agreement to create obligations of the states in relation to environmental defenders, people who work to protect the environment or their land rights, specifically to protect them from harm and ensure they have an enabling environment supportive of their work,” the ministry said.

However, while the treaty is the product of six years of intense talks, further consent is needed before the agreement takes effect.

The ministry, represented by its Multilateral Environmental Agreements head Kishan Kumarsingh, will hold several public sensitisation meetings.

The statement said that when facing threats to public health or the environment, states must promptly disseminate all information that could help prevent or reduce harm.

It also includes an obligation for states to develop pollutant registers across the region to provide access to information on harmful emissions released into the air, water, and land to the public.

The agreement guarantees meaningful public participation in the processes for granting environmental permits. States must provide information and consider the views of the public in the decision-making process. The agreement specifically recognises vulnerable people and requires states to eliminate barriers to their access.

ECLAC head Alicia Barcena said the agreement will help “build peaceful, more just, caring and inclusive societies, in which human rights are protected and the protection of the planet and its natural resources is guaranteed.”

The ministry said the agreement meshes with the UN’s Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN’s Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Some 24 regional nations participated in the event, whose closing ceremony was headed by Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís and Bárcena. It was the ninth meeting of the Negotiating Committee of the Regional Agreement on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.)


"Environmentalists to get protection"

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