Mon | Oct 14, 2019

Earth Today | CANARI applauds Jamaica, other islands for ratification of access to information treaty

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:18 AM
Country authorities that signed or ratified the Escazú Agreement on September 26 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

THE CARIBBEAN Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) has congratulated Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines who last month signed or ratified the Escazú Agreement on the margins of the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

The Escazú Agreement is the first regional environmental treaty for Latin America and the Caribbean and seeks to ensure that all people have access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters – an essential foundation for good environmental governance.

Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis join the 19 other signatories, including seven others from the Caribbean – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Four Caribbean countries so far have taken the final step to ratify the agreement – Guyana in April this year and now Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Six countries in total have now ratified.

CANARI’s executive director, Nicole Leotaud, will be attending the first meeting of the signatories of the Escazú Agreement being held in Costa Rica on October 11 to 12, 2019.

“I am proud of the leadership shown by those countries that have already signed. It is important that civil society shows its willingness to partner with governments as they work to improve environmental governance in the Caribbean,” she said.

Strategies

The meeting will discuss strategies and partnerships for the early entry into force and implementation of the agreement. Country authorities signed or ratified the Escazú Agreement on September 26, 2019, at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Indeed, SDG 16 focuses on good governance and specifically advocates for participation, accountable and transparent institutions, public access to information, and protection of fundamental freedoms. While recognising progress is being made, CANARI also underscores that more work remains to be done.

“We are very disappointed with the loud silence from the government of Trinidad and Tobago in response to the recent letter to the prime minister from 60 civil society organisations urging him to sign the Escazú Agreement.

We are still hoping for positive action to demonstrate this government’s commitment to good environmental governance,” Leotaud said.

The Escazú Agreement is open until September 26, 2020 for signature and ratification. Eleven countries need to ratify for it to enter into force. CANARI has strongly encouraged Trinidad and Tobago and other Caribbean governments to take up the mantle already set in train by our Caribbean counterparts and sign and ratify the agreement as a key tool and pathway to a more sustainable and resilient Caribbean. The clock is ticking until September 2020.

CANARI has been working across the islands of the Caribbean for 30 years. Their mission is to promote and facilitate stakeholder participation in the stewardship of natural resources in the Caribbean. Their work focuses on Equity, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Resilience, and Participatory Governance.