16-17 September 2013, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago - Government and civil society representatives from more than 15 countries in the Caribbean Region convened from 16-17 September 2013 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, at a regional workshop to advance the implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and the 2011 UNEP Bali Guidelines.  The two agreements promote access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters, as an important perquisite for sustainable and green development.  Principle 10 was adopted by Heads of States at the Rio Summit in 1992. It has been reaffirmed at the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development and through the more elaborate Bali Guidelines adopted by the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 2011.

“We are pleased that the first in a series of regional workshops on the implementation of Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines, which  are supported by UNEP and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) under a joint global initiative, is taking place in the Caribbean region. This recognizes the interest and commitment in the region for participatory environmental governance”, said Alexander Juras, Chief of UNEP’s Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch. “We also welcome the partnership withthe Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)and the World Resources Institutes (WRI) in this workshop, as both organizations support important Principle 10 related activities in the region”, Juras emphasized.

Diane Quarless, Director of ECLAC’s sub regional headquarters for the Caribbean, welcomed that Principle 10 is receiving renewed attention in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the context of the 2012 Rio +20 Conference, 15 countries recently signed the “Declaration on the Implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean”.  The signatory countries  -  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay - have committed and taken steps with the support of ECLAC to develop a Plan of Action  until 2014 to advance development of a regional instrument on access to information, participation and environmental justice.

regional workshop on Trinidad and TobagoThe regional workshop in Trinidad and Tobago provided an opportunity to review the implementation of Principle 10 in the region. It also examined implementation of relevant provisions of the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (BPoA) and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI), both of which have reaffirmed Principle 10.  Through a combination of plenary sessions and hands-on working groups, participants identified good practices for the three pillars of Principle 10, discussed implementation gaps, and identified needs and opportunities for capacity development and follow-up action. “Effective training and capacity development in line with needs and priorities of countries can play a key role in advancing transparency, openness and accountability in environmental decision-making”, said Achim Halpaap, Associate Director and Head of UNITAR’s Environment Unit. “UNITAR is looking forward to working with UNEP and other international partners, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in supporting country-based follow-up action to advance implementation of Principle 10”.

regional workshop in Trinidad and TobagoThe “Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters” (Bali Guidelines) were unanimously adopted in February 2010 at a Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council, Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) in Bali, Indonesia. They seek to assist countries in filling possible gaps in their relevant national legislation (and - where relevant and appropriate - in sub-national legal norms and regulations at state or district level) in order to facilitate broad access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

Responding to country requests for capacity development for the implementation of Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines, UNEP and UNITAR have launched a joint global capacity development initiative, which includes a series of regional workshops and a national capacity development component.  The project is part of the “Access for All” Special Initiative, which has been endorsed at the 2011 Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi. Funding for the regional workshop in the Caribbean has been provided by the Government of Norway

For further information, please contact:

Alexander Juras, Chief, Major Groups and Stakeholder Branch, UNEP (alexander.Juras@unep.org)

Achim Halpaap, Head, Environment Unit, UNITAR (achim.halpaap@unitar.org)