The challenge is to make the bill more visible. “Few people are aware of the agreement in the country and efforts are being made to promote it more, so that more people know and defend it,” said Joara Marchezini, information project manager at Article 19, an NGO. The agreement was first signed at the UN General Assembly in September 2018, after three years of negotiations under the authority of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 24 of the 33 countries in the region have signed the treaty, it is still open for ratification and at least 11 countries have had to be ratified for the treaty to enter into force. Recent quarantines, social destabilization and other emergency measures taken by countries to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have slowed the pace of legislative procedures, but ratification by Mexico now makes the treaty mandatory. Danielle Andrade, a Jamaican lawyer who represents clients in national civil society affairs, said she was optimistic about the impact of the agreement in her country. “This treaty will be able to strengthen its laws, especially those that will allow the public to participate in environmental decisions,” said Andrade. Last month, three new countries in Latin America and the Caribbean ratified the regional treaty, despite the impending social and economic crisis caused by the Covid 19 epidemic. The Escazé Agreement is an unprecedented global agreement to improve public access to information and citizen participation in environmental issues and to protect environmentalists. “This is a historic moment for Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Carole Excell, Director of the Office of Environmental Democracy at the World Resources Institute (WRI). “Countries in the region have the opportunity to adopt a legally binding agreement on environmental protection, which will not only help prevent and suppress attacks on environmentalists, but will also make it easier for millions of people to access environmental information and participate in decisions about their lives.” Nayib Bukele`s government is still hesitant to sign the agreement and does not even speak publicly about it.
“El Salvador is living in conditions of increasing environmental degradation and accelerated effects of climate change and is the second most shredded and ecologically degraded country on the continent after Haiti,” a dozen environmental and social organizations wrote last November, asking them to sign. The signing of the agreement was concluded by the environmentalists. According to Manuel Rodriguez Becerra, Minister of the Environment, the country`s link with the agreement shows the president`s willingness to respond to the demands of national protesters. In statements for Sustainable Week, Camilo Prieto, spokesman for the Colombian environmental movement, said that “the failure to sign the agreement is a bad message for environmentalists and an affront to those who are fighting to protect their territories from outlaw organizations and multinationals with economic interests.” At the negotiating table in Escazé, Costa Rica, there was a picture of Berta Céceres, a Honduran citizen murdered two years ago to fight a controversial hydroelectric project. A regional agreement on access to information, public participation and access to environmental justice, known as Principle 10, was approved. “This agreement was born out of the need to urgently address the climate emergency we are facing. When the treaty was opened for signature exactly two years ago, there was also hope that Latin America and the Caribbean could make history with a revolutionary standard that could contribute to the protection of the environment and those who defend them.