The Escazú Agreement is a Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, being the first human rights treaty that protects and favors the rights to information, participation, justice and security of people in environmental matters, based on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
This treaty seeks, among other objectives, to implement mechanisms of access to environmental justice and protection for the people affected in their integrity and security due to their work in defense of natural resources. This work to combat climate change has gradually increased in danger1,making 2019 the year in which there were the highest number of murders of land defenders, indigenous peoples and the environment.2 In addition, according to a report by Global Witness,3 more than half of the attacks against environmental defenders recorded in 2018 worldwide occurred in Latin America.
It is worth noting that these are the people on the front line of the climate crisis, the ones trying to protect climate-critical areas and reverse the most devastating practices. In Mexico, as well as throughout Latin America, communities that confront extractive industries and expose unsustainable business practices that wreak havoc on ecosystems and the climate face a series of risks and attacks that show the contradictions to overcome to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations. That is why the implementation of the Escazú Agreement will bring multiple benefits in the consolidation of environmental democracy and the strengthening of governance in decision-making, key to sustainable economic development.
This particular year is important to follow up on this agreement since the deadline to ratify the document is September 26, 2020. To date, the Agreement has been signed by 22 countries. However, only nine countries have ratified it (Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Uruguay), being fundamental for its entry into force that at least 11 countries ratify, accept, approve or adhere to its content.
In September 2018, PBI endorsed the Escazú Agreement as “a means to guarantee a safe environment in which individuals, groups and organizations that promote and defend human rights related to the environment can act without facing threats, restrictions, attacks or danger”. PBI Mexico also signed, along with other civil society organizations, a public statement on the occasion of the murder of defender Julián Carrillo, in which it urged the Mexican authorities to take all the necessary steps to sign this Agreement.4