September 20, 2017
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UN panel seeks more active role for LatAm citizens in environmental protection

 Argentina's minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Sergio Bergman, poses for a photo during an event organized by the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean on Monday, July 31. EFE/Ignacio Grimaldi

Argentina's minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Sergio Bergman, poses for a photo during an event organized by the Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean on Monday, July 31. EFE/Ignacio Grimaldi

Buenos Aires, Jul 31 (efe-epa).- Members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) inaugurated Monday in Buenos Aires the seventh meeting of a committee that aims to reach a regional accord encouraging citizens to be more active and the justice system easier to access in matters of environmental protection.

The meeting of the regional Agreement Negotiating Committee on the Rights of Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters of Latin America and the Caribbean, was inaugurated by Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie.

The foreign minister doubled down on Argentina's commitment to make sure "citizens' participation in environmental matters is really effective," a point that, he said, is essential for a truly democratic process. At the same time he hoped this week's meeting will produce the desired results.

"We believe the results of these negotiations will benefit the countries of the region, and will in fact benefit the inhabitants of each and every one of its countries," Argentina's chief diplomat said.

For ECLAC, these meetings should lead to the signing of an accord among the 24 countries of the region while improving access to the justice system and encouraging citizens to take part in all matters related to environmental protection.

Also present at the inauguration was Argentina's Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Sergio Bergman, who hoped the meeting will lead to the signing of "binding" protocols and not just some "inspirational" statements.

He therefore said the countries of the region must make progress in both the legal and economic aspects in order to improve environmental protection, and that markets must be regulated "so nothing can be profitable if it's not sustainable."

At the same time, the minister noted that crimes against the environment must be prosecuted within the penal codes of the region's countries.

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