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Waorani Indigenous people hold a banner that reads 'Our Territory, Our Decision' during a protest outside the Ministry of Natural Resources in Quito, Ecuador, on May 16, 2019, against the government's extractive policy in the Amazon.

A groundbreaking environmental treaty between Latin American and Caribbean countries goes into effect today, after almost eight years of planning and negotiations. 

The Escazú Agreement, named for the Costa Rican district where it was approved in 2018, is the first environmental treaty in the region, and the first in the world that includes provisions for environmental human rights defenders. The United Nations-facilitated agreement requires participating countries to prevent and investigate attacks against environmental activists, as well as improve public accessibility to environmental information and encourage public participation in environmental decision-making. It also acknowledges that living in a healthy environment is a human right, which could pave the way for participating countries to take stronger climate and environmental actions in the future.

Twenty-four of the region’s 33 countries have signed, or expressed interest in the agreement. It has been officially ratified by 12 — including Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua — making it binding in those countries.

“Its entry into force will mean that the mechanisms for... Read more

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