The Escazú Agreement and Its Effect on MexicoBy Sofía Hanna | Fri, 11/13/2020 - 10:54
On Nov. 7, the CEPAL and the UN celebrated that the Escazú Agreement was approved by the Mexican Senate. This is a big step following the controversies around the Mayan Train. Now that Mexico agreed to it, the UN and CEPAL hope other countries will be encouraged to join the agreement.
According to the UN, the Escazú Agreement is the first binding regional environmental treaty and also the first one in the world that boosts public participation and access to information on environmental issues in Latin America and the Caribbean. “(The agreement) sums up part of what we ask, which is giving access to justice and information, as well as encouraging participation in the decisions made that affect the environment. It reaffirms compliance with international agreements that Mexico is a part of and it fits with The Mayan Train issue," Director of CEMDA Gustavo Alanís said in a UN article.
Previously, MBN reported that Andrés Manuel López Obrador has had to address opposition regarding the Mayan Train on various occasions. It was also mentioned that SEMARNAT is the public institution in charge of verifying the environmental impact this project could have. Through the Escazú Agreement, that information will become public and it will allow organizations such as CEMDA to have a say in the matter.
On another MBN article addressing the Mayan Train, it was mentioned that there had been many concerns over the ongoing construction plan, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though these concerns translated into a letter signed by over 60 academics and 200 recognized NGOs, it seemed to have minimal effect on the project. The Escazú Agreement, however, could spur further discussion according to Alanís’ comments. The agreement will create a safe and auspicious space for human rights defenders focused on environmental matters to generate dialogue and proposals, as Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the CEPAL, stated in the UN release.
The Escazú Agreement will also protect human rights defenders against violence. Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, Mexico Head of the UN Human Rights office, clarified that part of the commitment Mexico agreed to was to protect human rights advocates, along with journalists that have been facing violence due to these issues. The agreement will also foment the participation of indigenous groups in government decisions. It will create a channel to address these environmental matters, developing a protocol and making it public, according to María Colín, Legal Advisor for Greenpeace Mexico, in an article from El Universal.