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MARCH 18, 2022

Chile signs presidential message for Chile’s accession to the Escazú Agreement

President Gabriel Boric led the ceremony, in which he called for Congress to take note of the importance of the agreement and approve Chile’s incorporation. He was accompanied by Environment Minister Maisa Rojas and Foreign Affairs Minister Antonia Urrejola.

The Government of Chile has kept its word and signed the presidential message for Chile’s accession to the Escazú Agreement, one of the first measures to reinforce our commitment to the green agenda. It comes as part of the environmental agenda that this government administration has promoted from the start, and the value that it has given to caring for nature.

The ceremony took place at La Moneda Palace, and was attended by President Gabriel Boric, Environment Minister Maisa Rojas and Foreign Affairs Minister Antonia Urrejola. They highlighted the significance of the agreement, which highlights the value of the environment and human rights.

“The Escazú Agreement is the only environmental treaty in the region. Its importance lies in the fact that it is a pioneering treaty for the benefit of the environment, gender equality, human rights, and the protection of defenders of the land, the territory and the environment,” Minister Urrejola stated.

She added, “Chile’s future is inevitably connected to the protection of its ecosystems. Accession to the Escazú Agreement represents the return of our best diplomatic traditions. We want to recover Chile’s international prestige and make Chileans feel proud about our country’s contribution to the world.”

Minister Rojas explained, “today is an emotional and long-awaited day for those of us who believe that human rights, democracy and our duty to move towards a fair ecological model is the most important task of our time.”

She stressed that “the urgency is of such magnitude that today is not the time for more hesitation. It’s time to take decisive and transformative actions, where we have to listen to science, as well as the economy, because the window of opportunity to face the climate and biodiversity crises is closing quickly. The costs of inaction are much greater than the costs of action.”

In his address, President Gabriel Boric indicated that, “this agreement represents a milestone on the road to a new relationship between the State and its inhabitants in environmental matters, and it requires a commitment from everyone. We are faced with the challenge of building a new model for development that will allow us to live in a healthy environment, develop in a more sustainable way, conserve our biodiversity, stop land degradation, adapt to climate change, and build a country in which our children can grow up safe and happy.”

Finally, the President called on Congress to process the project’s approval: “I want to invite Congress and its representatives to get this pushed through quickly, because life can’t wait.”

Details of the agreement

The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean is better known as the Escazú Agreement. Its objective is to guarantee the full and effective implementation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the rights of access to environmental information, public participation in the environmental decision-making process and access to justice in environmental matters.

It is effectively an agreement on the environment and human rights, specifically with regard to the “access rights” that make up the core of environmental democracy. It is a legally-binding instrument that has the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as its secretariat.

The Escazú Agreement is focused on capacity-building and cooperation that will allow countries to improve their own performance, while contributing to that of other countries. It also explicitly recognizes the permanent sovereignty of states over their natural resources.

The Escazú Agreement achieved 12 ratifications from the signatory countries. Having reached one more than the 11 needed, the agreement came into force on April 22, 2021, parallel to Earth Day celebrations.

It should be noted that Santiago will host the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Escazú Agreement from next April 20 to 22.