Story | 22 Jan, 2024

IUCN Members and Commissions from Latin America and the Caribbean consolidate their contributions to the Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters

The contributions were compiled and systematized through a consultation process with IUCN Members and Commissions in the region, and officially delivered to the Secretariat of the Escazú Agreement.

San José, Costa Rica, January 22, 2024. Responding to a call from the Secretariat of the Escazú Agreement, held by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters, formed by Chile, Ecuador and Saint Kitts and Nevis, IUCN developed a consultation process among its Members and Commissions to incorporate contributions to the design of the "Regional Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean", a tool that will be submitted for approval at the third Conference of the Parties to the Escazú Agreement in April 2024. 

During the months of November and December 2023, the Regional Membership Committees of Mesoamerica, the Caribbean and South America, the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), and the Regional Office of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC), held 6 virtual sessions, with the participation of 89 people from 16 countries in the region.

The contributions systematized in the consultation process make visible the diversity of perspectives and experiences on the issue of environmental defenders, reflecting the complexity and variety of human rights and environmental justice challenges in the region, and highlight the particular voices and realities of those who defend human rights in environmental matters. 

The participants in the consultation process recognized the proposed Action Plan as a good starting point for States Parties to design and implement measures to protect and promote the rights of environmental defenders. At the same time, they stressed the need to make the gender and intergenerational perspective more explicit, and to incorporate the intercultural perspective into the strategic lines of the Plan, with concrete actions that respond to the particular conditions of indigenous peoples, who contribute strongly and actively to the defence of nature.

This joint effort highlights the importance of the articulated work between the three pillars of the Union for the promotion of sustainable and equitable development, where the protection of human rights defenders in environmental matters is essential to achieve a harmonious balance between nature conservation and respect for the fundamental rights of communities,

said Úrsula Parrilla, IUCN Regional Director. 

This consultation process on the Regional Action Plan on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean is part of the process of strengthening IUCN's collaborative ties with ECLAC, within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two organizations during COP28, to support joint actions and efforts for the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development in the region.  

Ernesto Herrera, President of the Mesoamerica Members Committee, said

IUCN member organizations in the region see the implementation of the Escazú Agreement and the construction of this Action Plan as key tools to confront the unfortunate situations faced by people who defend their territories and nature from different threats. As IUCN community we are committed to making proposals and contributing to the environmental civic space.

The consultation process was organized with the support of the Voices Project, implemented by IUCN ORMACC and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). 

Read the draft Action Plan here