On 21 June, persons from the civil society sector participated in a sensitisation workshop, hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
The workshop was facilitated by:
- David Barrio of the United Nations Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
- Tsvetelina Filipova of the Regional Environmental Centre, an international NGO based in Hungary that is working to build the capacity of the civil society sector to participate in Principle 10.
- Danielle Andrade, Attorney-at-law, Jamaica.
- Access Rights:
Principle 10 “seeks to ensure that every person has access to information, can participate in decision-making process and has access to justice environmental matters with the aim of safeguarding the right to a healthy and sustainable environment for present and future generations.”
1.1. Access to Information:
- Information must be publicly available and accessible.
- It must be pro-actively disseminated; and
- must also be in a form that can be understood by the general public, particularly those persons who will be affected by a particular development.
Access to Public Participation:
- The general public, particularly those who will be most impacted by the development, must have an opportunity to participate in decision-making about the development. Their voices must be heard.
Access to Environmental Justice:
- Provisions must be made for citizens to challenge decisions if they feel that their rights have been infringed;
Grenada and Principle 10:
- Signatory to Principle 10: Grenada became a signatory to the Principle 10 Declaration on 8 April 2016 and is one of the 21 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean involved in negotiating an agreement around Principle 10.
- Access to International Support: It is useful to note that in order to obtain financial or other support from certain international sources, it is desirable that Grenada be a signatory to Principle 10 which commits it to implementing the access rights, eg accessing international support for geothermal exploration Grenada; access to Green Climate Funds
Provisions for Public to Participate in Negotiations on Agreement:
Negotiations in respect of the Principle 10 Agreement are ongoing and there are provisions for the general public to participate in the negotiations via a Regional Public Mechanism.
- Regional Public Mechanism:
The Regional Public Mechanism is an online platform which facilitates the participation of the general public in negotiations and meetings re Principle 10. Persons can sign up to become members at the link http://www.cepal.org/en/regional-public-mechanism. The facilitators encouraged persons attending the workshop to sign up and participate in the regional public mechanism
Submissions can be made to the public defenders who will participate in the discussion on behalf of civil society. There are six public defenders. The Caribbean is represented by Danielle Andrade, an attorney at law from Jamaica and her alternate is Karetta Crooks Charles of the St Lucia National Trust.
Implementation of Principle 10:
Whenever the negotiations are completed, the agreement would have to be given life by appropriate legislation. A key bit of legislation would be Access to Information legislation. Grenada currently has a draft Access to Information legislation and this would be an opportunity to review and update the Access to Information Bill.
Environment and Development in Grenada:
There are a number of proposed developments which will impact significantly on the citizens of the country but they have excluded them from the decision-making process. There is a Blue Economy Coastal Master Plan , which seems to prioritise a set of mega infrastructural developments along the coast and near shore area, which was presented at a Blue Growth Investment Conference in May 2016 to the almost total exclusion of local participation. Significant land reclamation in planned for some projects or appropriation of public space. To date, the citizens of the country have not been engaged but one can see some of the developments rolling out. One can therefore see that citizens could benefit from the implementation of Principle 10 in Grenada. Interested citizens at home and abroad are encouraged to sign up to the Regional Public  Mechanism and get involved in the negotiations re the Principle 10 Agreement.