Latin America lags behind in the transparency of environmental information

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  • Sun, 12/30/2018 - 20:15
Latin America lags behind in the transparency of environmental information
  • EFE

Juan Carlos Machorro

Latin American countries are lagging behind the rest of nations in terms of quality and transparency of environmental information, experts said today consulted by EFE.

Among its considerations was the need to ratify the Escazu Agreement, which aims at achieving greater, better, and transparent access to environmental information, which is essential in order to curb a crisis such as a climate change.

In an interview with EFE, the sociologist Susana Cruickshank commented that this agreement seeks to make it transparent from data to the availability of the economic resources that nations assign to ecology.

The director of the Center for Studies in International Cooperation and Public Management (CECIG) said that "when information and public spending on environmental issues are transparent, governments allow the population to build citizenship and demand results from the investments of large projects."

However, he stressed that "not only is the mechanism of transparency of data, but to have the culture that gives them an appropriate use".

Currently, the General Law of Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA) of Mexico is very weak in the eyes of the specialist and does not have the necessary mechanisms "to defend in a real way the rights of citizens to suffer environmental problems."

He recalled that many socio-environmental conflicts arise from the lack of information on projects such as the construction of dams and mines that clash directly with indigenous or rural communities.

In many cases, the opacity of information about these projects leads to corruption, he said.

According to data from the X Regional Forum for the Transformation of Socio-environmental Conflicts in Latin America, carried out at the end of November in Mexico City, it is estimated that there are 300 socio-environmental conflicts in the country.

These include struggles between communities and companies with megaprojects, leaving in their wake territorial displacement and threats to the environment.

Cruickshank explained that Mexico, with the new federal administration, started on December 1, has the great opportunity to ratify the Escazu Agreement.

However, gestures to environmentalism by the new government led by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are still insufficient, something that has been reflected in a drastic reduction in the budget of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and other dependencies of nature environmental

The latest data shows that Mexico invests 4.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to ecological protection and compensates for environmental damage.

During the X Regional Forum on the Transformation of Socio-environmental Conflicts, civil society organizations in Latin America concluded that access to reliable and timely information is a necessary condition for asserting the rights of those affected by socio-environmental conflicts.

They also considered that this also serves to reduce the asymmetries of power that underlie the dialogue between ancestral worldview and capitalist development models.

More than 130 attendees from countries such as Mexico, Canada, Chile, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, Spain, and the United Kingdom attended the forum.

The vice president of the international organization Oceana, Pedro Zapata, told EFE that opacity problems in environmental information in Mexico denote the existence of various ecological problems.

This situation, he said, shows a widespread official reluctance to recognize that there are several conflicts in the environmental sector.

"There is a political system in Mexico where middle-level officials, before doing their jobs correctly, must do everything possible to hide the problems from their superiors and are responsible for just giving them good news in order to keep the work," he complained.

This system of "no information" should not continue to reign, concluded the director of this organization that fights for the conservation of the seas.


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