The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis along with Ecuador and Chile is coordinating a two-day (November 22-23) Forum on Human Rights Defenders in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean in Quito, Ecuador.
The objective of the forum is to provide a space for discussion on the situation of human rights defenders in environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, bringing together the Parties to the Escazú Agreement, recognized specialists in the field, civil society, and people or groups in vulnerable situations to examine the challenges faced by human rights defenders in environmental matters and the possible responses to these challenges. The forum will also serve to raise awareness about the risks and challenges faced by environment defenders and how the Escazú Agreement can provide a supporting framework at the regional and national levels.
Derionne Edmeade, Environmental Education Officer in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Action and Constituency Empowerment is representing St. Kitts and Nevis. He serves as the country’s focal point for the Escazu Agreement and one of the coordinators for the human rights forum.
“Saint Kitts and Nevis is not only happy to be a part of this forum but also to represent the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean Region. We are also thrilled to be coordinating with my colleagues from Ecuador and Chile, as together we can move this agenda item forward as we continue to champion the cause to ensure that environment defenders’ voices are heard, rights are respected, and are treated and judged fairly without threats or discrimination as they exercise their rights free from fear,” said Mr. Edmeade during the opening ceremony on November 22.
“The environmental defenders who are most exposed to abuse and reprisals include women, farmers and indigenous people who fight against deforestation, extractives, or loss of cultural heritage or identity. Every day, they face abuse, threats and harassment for their work addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution, and nature loss,” Mr. Edmeade added.
According to Mr. Edmeade, the forum was “birth out of the belly of the Escazu Agreement as Article 9 of the agreement clearly focuses on ensuring that environment defenders’ rights are safeguarded in every way possible, for this we must do our part to ensure that these rights are articulated and exercised as there are many threats faced by our defenders especially here in Latin America.”
The forum is organized by The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) on behalf of the Chair, Uruguay, and in accordance with decision I/6 on human rights defenders in environmental matters.