ECLAC and the OECS Establish an Enhanced Programme of Action on the Escazú Agreement in the Eastern Caribbean

The Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Ms. Alicia Bárcena, and the Director-General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Dr. Didacus Jules, signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing an “Enhanced Programme of Action on the Escazú Agreement in the Eastern Caribbean.”

The programme recognizes the Escazú Agreement as a fundamental contribution to the implementation of international commitments of OECS Member States, such as the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the OECS Revised Treaty of Basseterre, and the Saint George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental Sustainability.

The Memorandum states that ECLAC and the OECS intend to reinforce the environmental dimension of sustainable development in the Eastern Caribbean though the Escazú Agreement by facilitating policy formulation, technical cooperation, training and capacity-building and strategic advocacy and awareness, among others. In particular, both institutions commit to elaborating joint studies, publications, reports and analytical work, as well as provide technical assistance to Member States and organize joint activities in support of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda.

Dr. Didacus Jules said, “The OECS has been a consistent proponent that sustainable development in the Eastern Caribbean is based on responsible decision-making, which considers not only the economic benefits of development, but also the importance of pursuing a balance between economic growth, social well-being and the health of the environment. This partnership with ECLAC for promotion and implementation of the Escazú Agreement provides an excellent platform and framework for advancing the aspirations of our Small Island Developing States,”

The ECLAC-OECS Enhanced Programme of Action on the Escazú Agreement will have a renewable duration of three years.

The Escazu agreement which was adopted on 4th March, 2018 sets out three fundamental rights. It seeks to give citizens more comprehensive access to information on environmental issues, including all major development projects. It promotes greater citizen participation in environmental decisions as it affords citizens greater access to justice in environmental matters and it aims to prevent, investigate and punish all attacks against defenders of environmental rights.

The Escazu agreement is the only binding agreement stemming from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) making it the first regional environmental agreement of Latin America and the Caribbean and the first in the world containing specific provisions on environmental human rights defenders.

The Escazú Agreement has been signed by five of the six independent States of the OECS and ratified by three of them (Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). Saint Kitts and Nevis ratified the agreement on 29th September, 2019.