Principle 10: citizen access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters

Photo credit: PNUD Perú/Paola Delgado

Rio de Janeiro hosted the two most important global summits on environment and sustainable development, in 1992 and 2012. The Rio 92 and the Rio+ 20 United Nations conferences were two pivotal moments when humanity got together to improve people’s quality of life while preserving Planet Earth’s natural limits.

The Principle No. 10 of the Rio 92 Conference Declaration, which was signed off 20 years later, at the Rio+ 20, “seeks to ensure that every person has access to information, can participate in the decision-making process and has access to justice in environmental matters”. We at the UNDP RIO+ Centre, a legacy of the Rio+ 20, consider that government transparency and citizen participation must work hand in hand to make sustainable development a reality. Ensuring the adequate implementation of the Principle 10 is, therefore, a fundamental pillar of our work as a global hub for sustainable development action and for the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ten countries endorsed the Principle 10 Declaration presented in Rio in 2012.

In 2014, Latin American countries took leadership to establish a negotiating committee aiming at creating a Regional Agreement on Access to Environmental Information, Participation and Justice.

Now, there are twenty-three countries working together towards a regional instrument in Latin America and the Caribbean; it remains open for signature by all countries in the continent. The aim is of the negotiation is to ensure the realization of Principle 10, protecting and advancing citizen rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

Brasilia, the modernist capital city of Brazil,will welcome the Principle 10 negotiators from Latin America and the Caribbean on 20-24 March 2017 for the 6th round of negotiations. Previous rounds were held in Santiago (May 2015 and in November 2016), Panama City (October 2015), Montevideo (April 2016), and Santo Domingo (August 2016).  This 6th meeting will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish and will be broadcasted live.

The meeting will be held at the headquarters of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, the Itamaraty Palace. It is a joint initiative between the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Brazilian Government, with support from the UNDP RIO+ Centre. ECLAC serves as the technical secretariat to support the process of advancing the implementation of a regional agreement.

The Principle 10 meetings are closely followed by civil society organizations. In fact, representatives from Brazilian civil society, with support of the Office of The Comptroller General (CGU), are organizing an event on 15 March to discuss the Brazilian inputs for the Principle 10 negotiations.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry and the UNDP RIO+ Centre have been working together on Principle 10 since the establishement of the Centre in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. For instance, they hosted non-moderated public consultations on Principle 10 using the Rio Dialogues Platform in 2015. The consultation was carried out during six weeks between July and August 2015. The goal of the process was to provide inputs to Brazil’s positions in the regional negotiations.  The main message from the consultation was supportive of the preliminary document because it reinforces democratic principles. However, the participants emphasized the importance of more government accountability and a legally-binding mechanism.

Watch the next Principle 10 negotiation phase on 20-24 March at the ECLAC website here.

Learn more about the Principe 10 with this ECLAC chart:

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