Multilateral Banks and OECD View Escazú Agreement as Critical for Creating a Climate of Sustained and Sustainable Investments
Representatives of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted today the relevance of the Escazú Agreement as a critical tool for generating certainty and stability in investments, at a side event during the Fifth Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is taking place this week in San José, Costa Rica.
The event entitled “Socio-environmental policy frameworks for a safe investment environment: the opportunities offered by the Escazú Agreement” featured the participation of Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC; Jaime Roberto Díaz, Executive Vice President of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI); Franklin Paniagua, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica; and Christian Guillermet, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, among other prominent figures and experts from international organizations, business associations and representatives of government and civil society.
On this occasion, Alicia Bárcena and Jaime Roberto Díaz signed a Memorandum of Understanding between ECLAC and CABEI that establishes a general framework for inter-institutional collaboration on issues related to the promotion and dissemination of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as the Escazú Agreement, in addition to other actions to promote policies for sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean, support for activities for a transformative recovery with equality, climate change and sustainability, the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) in Central American countries, as well as other issues on which the two parties may reach agreement.
Alicia Bárcena stressed the importance of accountability and of being able to participate and generate the social capital that would enable us to move towards the future. The Escazú Agreement, she indicated, marks progress on implementing regulations.
“There are those who fear the Escazú Agreement would hinder investment… On the contrary! This agreement can ensure that investments are more sustainable, with the participation of communities. If they are part of approving a process, the chances are greater that they will be environmentally sustainable and sustained over time," she stated.
She added that the Escazú Agreement seeks to protect defenders of the environment, those who have given their “life for life.” “That is why I congratulate the CABEI bank for having adopted and supported this treaty, since it allows for strengthening public and private institutions,” she said.
Bárcena took the opportunity to highlight that the First Conference of the Parties (COP1) of the Escazú Agreement will take place in April (20-22) in Santiago, Chile, at the headquarters of ECLAC, the United Nations organization that serves as the agreement’s Technical Secretariat. She indicated that its entry into force will provide us with a regional platform that makes us more competitive vis-à-vis other regions.
“We invite all the countries that have yet to ratify the Escazú Agreement to do so, thereby moving towards more just, peaceful and sustainable societies and establishing a better balance between the State, market and society, where the public – which has had such important participation in this treaty – would have the relevance it deserves,” she declared.
In his remarks, meanwhile, Jaime Roberto Díaz indicated that there are major challenges in the Central American region and as a multilateral banking entity, they are willing to accompany countries in overcoming them, including through better standards and policies for environmental and social protection.
“This framework agreement and memorandum of understanding with ECLAC will be very important for how we can implement and deepen CABEI’s strategic lines in this area. I urge everyone to not be afraid, to move forward on implementing this agreement that I am convinced is the open and transparent interaction in the social and environmental context, in good relations with communities, the public and private sector, to be able to achieve a formula that would lead us to better projects that would help close the main gaps associated with the region’s economic and social problems,” the CABEI bank executive stated.
Meanwhile, Costa Rica’s Deputy Minister for the Environment, Franklin Paniagua, shared his personal experience with the difficult fight that environmental defenders have had to carry out, including at the expense of losing their lives. “Many (of them) have died and the perpetrators have yet to be identified in their cases, which need a solution. That solution is the Escazú Agreement, its prompt approval and implementation,” he sustained.
“What corresponds to a path to a green and decarbonized economy is different ethics, some values and a stance on where and how capitalism can operate. What the transition towards that green economy and towards a series of ethical values and a differentiated way of doing business, which is very well encapsulated in the Escazú Agreement, gives us are competitive advantages as a country and as a region,” the Deputy Minister underscored.
Finally, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica, Christian Guillermet, explained that investors increasingly seek out safe environments that help them fulfill their goals, which is their contribution to the economy in all of our societies. He added that they are aware they have to rise to the challenge of their global responsibilities, cultivating and transforming their companies into true motors of development for the common good.
“In this context, the Escazú Agreement serves as a framework instrument with high standards in Latin America and the Caribbean for fostering responsible investment and giving different economic actors the tools to improve their transparency and environmental safeguards, which are so important in this new world where the true challenge is not the economic reactivation, or the pandemic, but rather climate change and climate threats,” he stated.
“This instrument aims to strengthen the ties between the State, the company and society to optimize the outcomes of their projects and produce greater well-being,” Guillermet insisted.
The event continued with a panel discussion that featured the participation of specialists from the OECD, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank, the IDB, the Business Alliance for Development (AED) of Acción Empresa – which is a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – and the Government of Costa Rica.
Participating in the closing session were Minister Camila Zepeda, Director General for Global Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, which is a member of the presiding officers of the Escazú Agreement, and Geannina Dinarte Romero, Minister of the Presidency of Costa Rica.