Protecting Our Planet, Empowering Our Peoples: Sign-on statement in support of the Escazú Agreement

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We, the movements and civil society organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and beyond, advocating for the rights of communities and peoples, strongly denounce the rampant corporate exploitation of our land and natural resources which has led to frequent attacks against our ranks and exacerbated the climate crisis. Notwithstanding the hurdles, we remain steadfast in our commitment to standing at the forefront of the fight to defend our peoples, communities, and planet. It is our solemn duty to push for policies and actions that protect our natural resources and ensure the well-being of our citizens, even in the face of powerful opposition from corporate interests.

The LAC region is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, and its unique biodiversity is not only vital for maintaining ecological balance but also provides valuable land and natural resources, sources of livelihood and identity to its people. With its wide range of ecosystems, preserving biodiversity is critical for both regional and global sustainability.

However, the preservation of LAC’s natural resources has come at a hefty price. From 2012 to 2021, Global Witness reported 1733 fatalities among environmental defenders, with 68% of the incidents taking place in Latin America. Land and resource conflicts in rural Latin America have led to violence against women who defend their communities’ natural resources. Environmental defenders such as Berta Cáceres, Margarita Murillo, and Silvia Suppo have been targeted with threats and violence while advocating for environmental justice and human rights. The assassination of these women and many others highlights the dangers faced by environmental defenders in Latin America and the urgent need to protect their rights and safety.

Therefore, we stress the importance and urgency of the Escazu Agreement. As more countries sign on, civil society and movements are further empowered to hold governments in the region to account for their obligation to protect the LAC peoples’ rights to the environment, land, and resources, safeguarding against further environmental degradation and destructive practices. The agreement also fosters strategies for building capacity in climate change planning and management, with a focus on helping impacted groups and frontline communities to ensure that no one is left behind. It is also the first regional environmental agreement with unique provisions explicitly safeguarding environmental defenders.

We call on states to adhere to the Escazu Agreement’s crucial tenets of access to information, public participation, environmental justice, and the protection of environmental defenders. We affirm that the Escazu agreement is a crucial instrument and a significant advancement in safeguarding the democratic rights, public participation, and well-being of environmental defenders. As such, we envision replicating similar agreements in various local and international contexts, thereby extending the benefits of this landmark treaty to a broader audience.

We urge fellow civil society organizations, social movements, and peoples’ organizations to stand with those who defend our environment and in support of the Escazu Agreement. The urgency to act and save the planet has never been greater. Thus, we must come together to take decisive action towards protecting our planet and all those who depend on it to guarantee a sustainable future for generations to come.

Stop the Attacks against People and the Planet! Defend environmental defenders! #