Q&A: Fighting for Climate Justice in the Caribbean

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Photo: © Eyepix/NurPhoto/Getty. Retrieved from opensocietyfoundations.org

Excerpt from opensocietyfoundations.org

Latin America and the Caribbean are among the most sensitive regions to climate-related disasters on the planet. In March 2018, the region adopted a treaty known as the Escazú Agreement—named for the place in Costa Rica where it was signed—which seeks to protect environmental defenders in their fight for climate justice, and ensure that vulnerable communities in the area have a voice in decisions affecting the environment they live in. While 25 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have signed the agreement only about half of them have ratified it.

We spoke with Nicole Leotaud, executive director of the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, about the current state of the agreement, the challenges involved in its implementation, and its value for the region.

What is the Escazú Agreement and why is it important to the Caribbean? 

The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, as it is officially known, is a treaty that holds governments responsible for protecting the environment. It will help deliver commitments made under the Multilateral Environmental Agreements, which are aimed at addressing climate change, conserving biodiversity, protecting oceans, safeguarding food and water security, preventing pollution, managing waste, and ensuring that sustainable development in the Caribbean delivers benefits in line with the Sustainable Development Goals for People, Planet and Prosperity. The Escazú Agreement is the first of its kind in this region, and the first in the world to lay out specific protections for environmental defenders, and it covers both environmental and human rights.

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