Webinar on the Escazu Agreement and the Earth Charter

On April 20, 2021, Yolanda Kakabadse, Mauricio Limón Aguirre and Carlos de Miguel participated as panelists in a Webinar moderated by Mateo Castillo Ceja, entitled: “A consistent duo for citizen empowerment: The Earth Charter and the Escazu Agreement”. Seventy people participated in the live event.

The following questions were addressed in the webinar:

  • What are the meeting points between the Earth Charter and the Escazú agreement? How do these support each other to achieve access rights?
  • How do both contribute to citizen empowerment to influence sustainability processes?
  • How should national legal frameworks be articulated between the EC and the EA to achieve greater strength in access rights and protect human rights defenders in environmental matters particularly?

The question, Are the EC and EA a consistent duo? Addressed specifically at the end of the webinar, allowed an overview of the topics covered in response to the three previous questions.

The raison d’être of the webinar was to support the launch of the Escazú Agreement and establish its connection with the Earth Charter. In this sense, the panelists agreed that both documents must “walk together” since the EC is a vital instrument that maintains an intimate and interdependent relationship with the EA. The EC presents the umbrella for a different way of life in which everyone has to participate and embrace the concerns of science. The EA is the instrumental framework for the actors to get to work in a twinned way. Especially considering that, if sustainable development is a right, the principles of the EC are a source of law for the future, the EA presents a binding legal instrument for countries to achieve it. It should be noted that once the treaty is signed, a country cannot oppose its purpose and objectives, it must align itself with its principles and cannot go against the principle of progressivity and non-regressivity.

The EC and the EA are twinned in form and substance, both date back to the Rio Summit in 1992 and highlight the empowerment of citizens to solve environmental problems, the product of an intercultural dialogue and consensus between civil society and governments on a basis of goodwill. The common goal of both is sustainable development and the right of people to live in a healthy environment.

The EC presents a broad and complete ethical framework with a vision of sustainable development, it is a source of duties and obligations of all towards others and the Earth, the EA includes them as a legally binding instrument of environmental democracy. In both cases, the need to balance social asymmetries is highlighted, recognizing the ignored and vulnerable through ecological integrity, respect and care in the EC and access to environmental justice in EA.

Access to information and citizen participation are essential to put the guidelines into practice and improve the condition of the planet. It is not necessary to speak in difficult (Kakabadse), it is necessary to reach all groups in the world and in the EA the need for their own expression (eg indigenous people) is recognized without others interpreting their voices.
The implementation of the EA implies recognizing that the rights of participation, justice and access to information are indivisible and necessary for citizen empowerment and it is the responsibility of the states to protect said implementation. Whoever knows how to participate has access to justice (Limón); in a true participatory democracy, everyone plays the same game.

The continuous and constant solidarity of the human being is essential: with the planet, between generations, urban and rural population, men and women, nations. Most of the countries have regulatory frameworks that allow the EA content to be implemented with a focus on doing things better. Asymmetries generate losses because there is a lack of information (from Miguel). Within its own frameworks and a progressive principle of law, the EA can be effective in adequate governance, participatory and deliberative democracy, access rights, as well as an institutional framework with budgets and practical application at two levels: full effectiveness and progressive effectiveness.

It is essential that the AE be a national working instrument, for which it is necessary to disseminate it, facilitate the understanding of citizens and that it be part of the social dynamics and citizen coexistence.

Find here the webinar’s recording (in Spanish):