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OGP as a Key Partner to Implement the Escazu Agreement

OGP como socio clave en la implementación del Acuerdo de Escazú

Alonso Cerdan|

The transparency, participation, and collaboration tools, mechanisms, instruments, and platforms related to the open government action plan co-creation process contribute to the implementation of the Escazú Agreement. In turn, the Escazú agreement provides regional standards on information, participation and justice in environmental matters that can greatly benefit OGP.”

Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and OGP Ambassador

The Escazu Agreement entered into force on April 22 after 12 Latin American countries ratified it. On a global scale, this treaty is especially innovative because it guarantees the right of access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making processes, and access to justice in environmental matters. More importantly, it provides measures and mechanisms to exercise and enforce these rights. It is the only binding agreement emanating from the United Nations Sustainable Development Conference (Rio + 20), the first regional environmental agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the first in the world to contain specific provisions to protect human rights activists. 

According to the Agreement, environmental democracy is based on transparency, participation and inclusion as a basis for generating social and ecological reforms in the region. In this context, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) has sought to advance these principles around the world for the last 10 years. OGP offers a platform that allows the implementation of standards such as EITI, Open Data Charter, Open Contracting and others. OGP can be a strategic tool in the design of implementation routes for the Agreement and can expand its scope, based on a transparent and inclusive public management model.

We have a unique opportunity. OGP is an excellent, established platform that can be used to implement the principles and obligations in the Escazú Agreement, especially in the five OGP member countries that have ratified it: Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay. Even the highest leadership of ECLAC, the Agreement’s Technical Secretariat, has highlighted this on several occasions.

In fact, OGP members in the region are already using the OGP platform to co-create and implement commitments for transparent environmental information and increase citizen participation. These are some examples that have shown interesting results:

Ecuador was a pioneer in committing to implement the Escazú Agreement. To achieve this, they proposed to carry out a diagnosis of congruence of the Agreement with the current political, normative and institutional framework; promote articulation with civil society organizations, academia and local movements; create a governance mechanism and co-build proposals and a roadmap to internalize the provisions of the Agreement. The commitment, promoted by the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition and the Hemisferios University, has managed to sustain the collaborative work between the government and civil society.

Mexico combined the values ​​of open government and the Escazú Agreement to define and implement a commitment that aims to strengthen transparency on forest, water and fisheries management through monitoring groups.

In Panama, the Ministry of the Environment, civil society and academia work collaboratively to co-create a commitment on the Escazú Agreement in their action plan, which aims to improve the national environmental information systems.

Argentina committed to publishing open and interactive information on a centralized portal on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, focusing on the publication of open environmental data and accountability to citizens.

In the last two cycles of action plans from the Americas, more than 20 commitments focus on the environment, which shows a growing interest in promoting the sustainable development and environmental protection agenda. There is an opportunity to further increase this trend in the coming years now that the Agreement has entered into force and there is a legal obligation to implement it. Two months ago, during Open Gov Week, more than 400 people joined OGP, ECLAC, and Universidad Hemisferios to learn more about the opportunities between the Escazú Agreement and OGP and how we can work with governments, civil society organizations, academia and others to create more environmentally just and transparent societies.

This historic opportunity for the OGP community to face the challenges related to access rights, civic participation and environmental justice in Latin America and the Caribbean is palpable, even with the number of challenges that many reformers face. That is why OGP will promote spaces for dialogue and peer exchange to expand knowledge and resources for implementers in the design of their roadmaps. With that in mind, we have assembled a group of experts in open government and the environment who can support and accompany those actors who are implementing commitments on the environment. As other countries begin to develop more commitments that meet the Agreement, we will develop even more tools and materials.

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