Strengthen environmental democracy and sustainable development in Colombia through the implementation of the Escazú Agreement

Project: Research Project

Project Details


In Costa Rica, last Sunday, March 4, 25 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Colombia, and with significant public participation, adopted by consensus an historic international treaty that sets standards for the implementation of the rights of access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters, known as the three pillars of environmental democracy, enshrined since 1992 in Principle 10 of the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Environment and Development. This regional agreement, now called the "Escazú Agreement", began to be negotiated in 2014 under the technical secretariat of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and reached nine rounds of discussion, in which Professor Lina Muñoz participated in its entirety and became part of national and international networks on the subject.

The objective of this new legal instrument is to guarantee the complete and effective implementation in the region of access rights in environmental management in order to contribute to the protection of the rights to live in a healthy environment and to the sustainable development of present and future generations. This binding agreement is an unprecedented collective triumph for Latin America and the Caribbean by incorporating advanced measures on environmental issues.

How could the Escazú Agreement affect environmental governance in Latin America and the Caribbean, and particularly in Colombia?

Colombia and in general, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have traveled a voluntary path for more than 25 years towards the construction of an institutional and normative architecture for the materialization of the rights of access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters enshrined in Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration of 1992. The emergence of the Escazú Agreement on this issue marks a new route into the future that proposes a transition from discretionary national actions to a binding commitment to guarantee the effectiveness of these rights.

The current panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean and Colombia in this regard show, on the one hand, the existence of various legal developments and policies and practices that reflect positive advances and, on the other hand, that it undoubtedly requires a greater effort to stop being the region and country in the world with the greatest number of environmental conflicts and threats to human rights defenders, and that the Escazú Agreement rightly proposes responses to this situation.

Among the benefits of the Agreement for the countries that become part of it, in terms of environmental governance, are the opportunity to strengthen their institutions and work on the weaknesses of the legal and public policy frameworks, as well as the establishment of minimum implementation standards that become a common floor for the fight against environmental problems. It also introduces innovative elements regarding the creation and strengthening of the capacities of the States Parties; and assistance, resource mobilization and South-South cooperation between Latin American and Caribbean countries. Similarly, the Escazú Agreement is the first international treaty to ask States to take effective and adequate measures to protect the human rights of environmental defenders and to create safe environments for them.

The entry into force of the Agreement will determine multiple opportunities to strengthen environmental governance, but in the same way, it will require high doses of political will on the part of governments to achieve the necessary internal adjustments that allow its provisions to permeate national structures; and articulation processes that promote alliances from a multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach. Likewise, the Escazú Agreement enters international environmental law, with a human rights perspective in environmental management and with a procedural approach that complements the content of the right to a healthy environment and seeks to achieve sustainable development.

The rights of access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters have also been recognized by the United Nations as a fundamental instrument for the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. These three pillars of environmental democracy are a means for the countries of the region, such as Colombia, to simultaneously demonstrate greater and better progress in fulfilling other international commitments and agendas, such as obligations on climate change, other multilateral environmental agreements and the OECD.

Now that the negotiation is over, the countries of the region are at a key moment as they have the task of initiating the national procedures for signature, acceptance or ratification.


1.Elaborar un diagnóstico nacional sobre el estado actual de implementación de los derechos de acceso a la información, a la participación y a la justicia en asuntos ambientales -pilares de la democracia ambiental- en Colombia.
2. Identificar los principales retos jurídicos e institucionales para la ratificación del Acuerdo de Escazú Colombia.
3.Fortalecer las capacidades de los diferentes sectores sociales en materia de democracia ambiental a partir de los contenidos del Acuerdo de Escazú.
4.Incidir en el proceso de ratificación del Acuerdo de Escazú ante el poder legislativo
Effective start/end date2/5/191/8/20

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

Main Funding Source

  • Competitive Funds
  • Starter Funds


  • Bogotá D.C.


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