Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Jamaica ratifies Escazú Agreement, JET hails move as major milestone

Published:Monday | September 30, 2019 | 10:07 AM
JET CEO Suzanne Stanley - File photo

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) is welcoming the decision of the government to sign and ratify the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters (the Escazú Agreement).

The agreement was signed Thursday at the 74th United Nations General Assembly held in New York by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith and leaders from four other countries: Guyana, Bolivia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay.

“This is a huge milestone for Jamaica which we believe will greatly improve the way that environmental matters are dealt with,” said Suzanne Stanley, CEO of JET.

“We look forward to Jamaica’s full implementation of the Escazú Agreement which will result in greater transparency, participation and accountability in environmental decision making.”

The Escazú Agreement is the first treaty for the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region that requires countries to ensure that the public has the right to obtain access to environmental information, participate in decisions that affect the environment and obtain justice for environmental wrongs.

The agreement is also the first treaty to contain specific obligations to protect environmental defenders from harm.

To date, the document has been signed by 21 countries and ratified by six countries, with Guyana being the first country to ratify the agreement.

The Escazú Agreement is open for signatures to the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and enters into force after 11 ratifications.

The First Meeting of the Signatory Countries to the Escazú Agreement will be held in Costa Rica in October 2019.

“We hope that the policies associated with this agreement will ultimate reduce the socio-environmental conflicts around the use of natural resources and projects that have a significant impact on the environment in Jamaica”, said Danielle Andrade Goffe, JET’s former legal director and current board member played a pivotal role in negotiating the agreement on behalf of civil society in the region.

Jamaica’s signing of the Escazú Agreement concluded a series high profile meeting on Climate Change and the environment attended by the Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, Johnson Smith and other Jamaican political leaders at the UN General Assembly in New York City last week.

Prime Minister Holness also took the lead in advocating for action to be taken on climate change on behalf of Small Island Developing States, making public commitments to protecting Jamaica’s environment.

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