The Escazú Agreement was adopted on 4 March 2018 after two years of preparatory meetings and four years of negotiations, which involved significant public participation. This is the only binding agreement from Rio+20 and the first environmental agreement adopted by the Latin America and Caribbean region. As the international community reflects on the possible options for enhancing the effectiveness of international environmental law in the framework of the negotiations for a possible Global Pact for the Environment, the Escazú Agreement deserves attention, both for its content and also for the process that led to its inception.

Key Messages

  • The first binding agreement from Rio+20, the Escazú Agreement represents a breakthrough in international environmental law in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in terms of the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration. Based on the principle of sustainable development, the agreement underlines the interdependence between human rights and the environment and specifically mentions the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters. It also enshrines certain key principles such as non-regression and progressivity.
  • Reaching this agreement required a major effort in terms of awareness raising and providing explanations to States. It is the culmination of a two-year preparatory phase and nine intensive meetings of its Negotiating Committee, which involved several workshops and the mobilization of regional and international expertise.
  • Active public participation in the negotiations has been critical to maintain a high level of ambition and to enable the addition of key dimensions in the text that were not originally planned. Government delegates, representatives of the public and academia, experts and other stakeholders met and collaborated during the negotiations.

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