Nah I feel safe. Really I do

According to ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Bárcena, the recent signing of the Escazú Agreement by fourteen countries from Latin America and the Caribbean is a landmark achievement for democracy within the region. The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters, shortform the Escazú Agreement, hits a series of firsts. It is the only treaty to have emerged from RIO+20. It is the first regional treaty in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it is the only one anywhere that contains specific provisions for the promotion and protection of defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

But if you're reading this and you have any concern at all for the T&T environment and, you are an active campaigner for sustainable development take two aspirins and a valium. Trinidad and Tobago have not yet signed, despite being one of the key countries that birthed the Escazú Agreement. True, not signing doesn't mean T&T can get away with environmental irresponsibility or environmental rights abuse. It only required signatures from 11 states to enable ratification to start and that happened with 3 to spare, thank Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay, Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The bad news is ratification itself is two years away and though our country may in fact sign at the last minute, that gives government an open hand to dabble in the unsustainable. It also allows another major enviro-miscreant time to romp. Consider the missing names in the Escazú Agreement, take a deep breath. Venezuela hasn't signed either. Odds are, now that these two countries have signed the Dragon Gas deal, access to information, public participation and justice in environmental matters will have to take a back seat. One supposes both Maduro and Rowley think they have time - 24 months, to think about Escazu, that is if 'access' is actually on their agenda.

Thing is, there are real considerations that this Treaty could fix for large segments of both countries . One, and this applies equally to Venezuelan and Trinbagonian workers, are the humanitarian issues. Both countries have not used their natural wealth to benefit their populations beyond the short-term. Trinis are awakening to this, but Venezuelans have been suffering a long time, and neither relief nor respite is on the horizon. Even if Venezuela' s gas does make it to the world market via Trinidad, odds are the money will not benefit rank and file in either country. Neither government is thinking about its people, just about ensuring survival of the regimes.

There is another issue. The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters can alleviate a lot of future social and environmental woes. As Trinidad literally lives on Venezuela's doorstep it would be nice, now that our two countries are jointly monetising the blue economy, if information can be shared about who, what, where, and when. This is critical given the huge scale of social disruption next door.

The odds however, of anything like that happening is low. Neither Rowley nor Maduro speaks disclosure - the term doesn't exist in their vocabulary. Yes, 14 countries signed the Escazú Agreement last week in New York, but at this point it's just gesture. It doesn't make me and my environment feel safer at all.

Download this as .PDF