Vance Center Environment Program Advances WECAN’s Escazú Efforts Ahead of COP2

March 2023

In support of the Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, International (WECAN), the Vance Center is partnering with firms in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru to evaluate whether those countries’ domestic laws meet international legal standards on FPIC.

(Photo credit: Sam Bookman)

The international right of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), embodied in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Indigenous and Tribal People’s Convention No. 169 (ILO No 169), has generated legislation and jurisprudence to govern of the duty of countries to consult with Indigenous peoples on activities that may affect their lands, territories, or livelihoods. According to these instruments, consent must be given without coercion, sought prior to obtaining permits or authorizations or commencing activities, and presented in lay terms and the language and dialect of the Indigenous community. The Vance Center’s current research examines whether each country has ratified these international agreements and analyzes each country’s domestic laws and regulations enacted to comply with international law. 

This project advances the Environment Program’s work on Indigenous rights and builds on a previous project with WECAN that involved working with partner firms to analyze and compare the rules of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement) against the domestic laws of the same countries. 

After completing the previous Escazú Agreement reports, which the client then published, the Environment Program co-hosted workshops with WECAN and the law firms to present the reports to the human rights and environmental defenders that make up WECAN’s network and answer questions regarding the agreement and the defenders’ rights. WECAN plans to use the new FPIC research in its advocacy work on behalf of environmental human rights defenders across the Americas. 

Both of these projects, as well as the related work of WECAN and other civil society organizations, are contributing to a broader regional conversation around implementation of the Escazú Agreement and civil society’s role.

In April 2022, the Conference of the Parties to the Escazú Agreement (COP1) celebrated the first anniversary of the Escazú Agreement coming into force. At COP1, civil society engagement in the negotiations maintained crucial public space for public participation and led to the introduction of rules for public participation at future COPs. COP2, taking place on the Agreement’s second anniversary in April in Buenos Aires, Argentina, will include election of key members of the Committee to Support Implementation and Compliance, along with discussions on how to continue advancing the agreement.