The Escazú Agreement: Is Costa Rica being taken into account?

    It is necessary giving a voice to Costa Rican civil society in terms of public policies that affect climate action

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    According to data from environmental organizations, in Costa Rica, there is a record of ten murders, the same number of persons, some fourteen attacks against physical integrity and some 26 lawsuits filed, all this against environmental activists in the country. Attacks and lawsuits are recorded against park rangers and public officials such as judges, journalists who cover environmental struggles, and teachers, in just the past years.

    There are also sub-records or cases unknown to the environmental movement, even so, a total of 94 acts of violence have been counted, which together and systematized show that they are not isolated cases.

    The worrying list of murders of leading human rights defenders that the country has made known are: Jehry Rivera, Sergio Rojas, Jairo Mora, Diego Armando Saborío, David Maradiaga, Maria del Mar Cordero, Oscar Fallas, Jaime Bustamamte, Gerardo Quirós Acosta and Olof Nicolas Wessberg.

    About the Escazú agreement

    It is the first regional environmental agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is also the first in the world to contain specific provisions on human rights defenders in environmental matters. Although the Agreement is open to the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, it was signed by 24 of them, in September 2018. And there are 12 countries that proceeded to ratification.

    Costa Rica, for its part, although it is a signatory and was even host to this crucial agreement, has not yet ratified its entry into force, which had been set for April 22nd, 2021. Even so, Costa Rica will be part of the event of its launching.

    It is worth noting that there is the Citizen Consultative Council on Climate Change (5C), as an instance of citizen participation led by social, sectoral and productive organizations, created by Executive Decree 40616-MINAE, within the framework of the national open government policy, that has the call to improve the levels of coordination and communication between the public administration and citizens and give a voice to Costa Rican civil society in terms of public policies that affect climate action.

    Other countries also have not ratified the Escazú Agreement
    The pact reached in Escazú, Costa Rica, in March 2018, has not been ratified by countries with critical contexts in this matter, such as Colombia, Brazil and Peru. To broaden the scope of the Escazú Agreement, the ideal is to protect access to information, public participation and justice in environmental matters in Latin America.

    The ratification of the Agreement is necessary to give legal protection to environmental defenders, who are often silenced by economic interests, said members of the Socio-environmental Kiosks Program of the UCR.

    It goes without saying that Latin America is the region of the world that most registers murders of environmental activists, according to figures from Global Witness. We at TCRN hope that the changes from the inside out through the Escazú Agreement will be evident, and that there will be greater justice, less impunity, greater environmental awareness of all countries and respect for those who fight for it.

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