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Background

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 20-22 June 2012, 10 Governments from Latin America and the Caribbean endorsed the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, in which they reaffirmed their commitment to rights of access to information, participation and justice regarding environmental matters, declared their willingness to work towards a regional instrument promoting the full application of those rights and requested the support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) as technical secretariat. Twenty-three countries have signed the Declaration to date and it remains open for signature by all countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2012-2014, four meetings of the focal points appointed by the Governments of the signatory countries of the Declaration on the application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean were held: the first in Santiago on 6 and 7 November 2012; the second in Guadalajara, Mexico, on 16 and 17 April 2013; the third in Lima on 30 and 31 October 2013; and the fourth in Santiago, from 4 to 6 November 2014.

At the fourth meeting of the focal points, the signatory countries adopted the Santiago Decision, in which they agreed to commence negotiations on a regional instrument on access to information, participation and justice regarding environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean. To that end, they established a negotiating committee, with significant participation by the public, and appointed Presiding Officers. They requested ECLAC to prepare a preliminary document on the regional instrument. They also requested the Presiding Officers to steer the process, with the support of ECLAC as technical secretariat, with a view to concluding negotiations on the regional instrument by December 2017.

The first meeting of the negotiating committee was held at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago from 5 to 7 May 2015. At that meeting, ECLAC presented the preliminary document on the regional instrument that it had been requested by the countries to prepare. The negotiating committee adopted its organization and work plan and agreed to hold its second meeting in Panama City, at the invitation of the Government of Panama, on 27-29 October 2015.

The second meeting of the negotiating committee took place in Panama City from 27 to 29 October 2015. At the meeting, substantive aspects of the regional agreement were negotiated. The negotiation focused on the preamble, article 1 and part of article 2 of the Text Compiled by the Presiding Officers for the second meeting of the negotiating committee which includes the language proposals made by countries on the preamble and articles 1 to 10 of the preliminary document of the regional agreement. The proposal on the modalities of public participation in the negotiating committee of the regional agreement prepared by the co-chairs was also considered. At the meeting, the countries agreed to resume the negotiations on articles 2 to 10 at the third meeting of the negotiating committee, using the second version of the compiled text, and review outstanding issues from the preamble to article 10; continue considering the proposed modalities for participation of the public in the negotiating committee of the regional agreement, with a view to their adoption at the third meeting of the negotiating committee.

The third meeting of the negotiating committee was held from 5 to 8 April 2016 in Montevideo, where progress was made in the negotiation of articles 2 to 5 and numerals 1 and 2 of article 6. In addition, the modalities for participation of the public in the negotiating committee of the regional agreement were adopted.

The fourth meeting of the negotiating committee was held in Santo Domingo from 9 to12 August 2016. The commitee concluded revisions to article 6 and part of of article 7.

At its fifth meeting, held at ECLAC headquarters from 21 to 25 November 2016, under the auspices of the Government of Chile, the countries concluded the review of articles 7 and 8 and began reviewing article 9. 

In the light of the foregoing, the aim of the sixth meeting is to resume the negotiations on the substantive aspects of the regional agreement, continuing, as agreed, with articles 9 to 25, using the fifth version of the compiled text, and reviewing outstanding issues through flexible working modalities. The preliminary report of the secretariat assessing the possible administrative, financial and budgetary implications of the agreement will also be presented.

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