Civil society calls on Government to ratify the Escazú Agreement
THE EDITOR, Madam:
We, the undersigned civil society groups and individuals, are calling on the Government of Jamaica to ratify the Escazú Agreement immediately, so that there can be greater cooperation, participation and transparency regarding environmental matters in Jamaica.
Jamaica played a key role in developing the treaty and signed the Escazú Agreement on September 26, 2019, but is yet to ratify the agreement.
The UN Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (the Escazú Agreement) promotes the human right to a healthy environment. The Regional Agreement is open to the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean - 24 countries are signatories to the agreement, but only 15 countries have ratified it.
The Second Forum on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean recently took place in Panama from September 26-28 and contributed to the development of an Action Plan for environmental defenders in the region.
Over 400 environmental defenders from across the region, including several civil society groups and individuals from the Caribbean, came together to share experiences and best practices in the promotion, prevention and protection of people who defend the environment.
Nicole Leotaud, executive director for the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, and who is one of six elected representatives of the public for the Escazú Agreement, said, “This agreement is an important tool which is to be used for the protection of the environment and human rights. At this meeting, we focused on Article 9 of the agreement which establishes that each party shall guarantee a safe and enabling environment for persons, groups and organisations that promote and defend human rights in environmental matters, so that they are able to act free from threat, restriction and insecurity.
“It was especially very important to have Caribbean environmental defenders share their stories and experiences, because there is a misconception that Caribbean environmental defenders don’t face any threats or risks.”
Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, chief executive officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust, was one of the Caribbean representatives who delivered a testimonial at the forum.
She said, “In Jamaica, environmental defenders face a number of risks and challenges when exercising their rights to freedom of expression and participation, including several forms of intimidation, harassment and stigmatisation. These issues are made worse by the fact that we live in a small island where it is easy to be ostracised, victimised and sidelined.”
Joining other countries in the region which are parties to the agreement will provide Jamaica with opportunities for sharing of information, and capacity-building to continue to strengthen environmental governance and protect the human right to a healthy environment in Jamaica.
SIGNED BY 39 CIVIL SOCIETY
GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:
1. Dr. Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie, CEO, Jamaica Environment Trust (JET)
2. Auro Fraser
3. Adene Chung
4. Donovan Brandon Hay
5. Caribbean Women of the Diaspora
6. Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation
7. Citizens Rights to the City
8. Diana McCaulay, Founder, Jamaica Environment Trust
9. Dr Honor Ford-Smith, Associate Professor Emerita, York University, Toronto.
10. Dr Anne C Bailey, Director, Green Team International
11. Eartha Cole
12. Emma Lewis, Writer, Environmental Advocate
13. Felix Charnley, Environmental Activist
14. Floyd Smith
15. Hilary Nicholson, Citizens Rights to the City
16. Ingrid Parchment, Executive Director, Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation
17. Jeanette Campbell
18. Judith Wedderburn, Board Member, CANARI
19. Laura Facey
20. Lisa Sorensen, Executive Director, BirdsCaribbean
21. Lauren Creary
22. Nicole Leotaud, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) e| firstname.lastname@example.org
23. Mario Galbert
24. Mickel Jackson, Jamaicans for Justice
25. Reanne McKenzie
26. Susan A. Muir, Associate Professor, University of Technology, Jamaica
27. Tanya Brooks
28. Rachel Goffe, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto
29. Samere Tansley, Citizens Rights to the City
30. Susan Goffe
31. Stand Up for Jamaica
32. Belinda Collier-Morrow
33. Wendy A. Lee, Seven Oaks Sanctuary for Wildlife
34. Windsor Research Centre
35. White River Fish Sanctuary
36. Hugh Dunbar, resident of Bull Bay
37. Michael Rodriguez, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
38. David Walters, Executive Director, Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust
39. Dawn Williams