Central America towards better environmental policy

Central America towards better environmental policy

Historically, Central America has had deforestation rates and the highest number of environmental deaths. But in recent years, the region seems to be making temporary strides in environmental protection.

Panama, one of the world’s most biodiversity hotspots, was the first Central American country to grant natural rights. Signed by President Laurentino Cardiso on February 24, 2022 Basic law It stipulates that everyone must respect and protect the rights of nature. Failure to do so will result in liability and prosecution.

Experts view progress with a mixture of optimism and skepticism.

In February of this year, the Honduran government announced its intention to close the open mine. And Guatemala is waiting for the US court’s decision on the land rights of the native Maya Kyuchi between human rights, they want to stop having a mining company in their territory.

In the absence of legal frameworks and government corruption that could impede real progress, experts view progress as a mixture of optimism and skepticism.

Panama recognizes the rights of nature

Attorney Louisa Aras was involved in drafting Act 287 as the legal adviser to Panama’s Ministry of Environment. Until 2022, only Ecuador, Mexico and Bolivia recognized the rights of nature. Colombia did a part of it, but the legal bureaucracy makes the implementation uncertain.

Aras says the law proposes “a new way of seeing and interacting with nature”; Most environmental laws and regulations prioritize the human race.

Lawyer cites Section 7 as one of the most important aspects of the law. Indicates the integration of Native Worldview and Native Knowledge into key aspects of law enforcement. Araúz also sees the importance of the concept of a circular economy in law: not the expulsion of resources, but the obligation to reclaim them.

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The government and all law firms must respect and protect the rights of nature and legal entities (such as institutions), including nature’s right to timely and effective restoration; And the right to protect water cycles.

It also establishes that the government can legally hold any person, organization or government responsible for its actions in violation of these rights. There are no concrete tools yet to enforce the law, Aras says. But according to the lawyer, the Ministry of Environment is the appropriate party to arrange for implementation.

Honduras bans open space mining

On February 28, a month after taking office, Honduran President Siomaro Castro’s government announced that it was “freeing the country from open mining” through the Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mining.

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In which Mining type, Also known as opencast mining, minerals are often mined in quarries using harmful chemicals. Therefore, it is considered to be very harmful to the environment as it revolves around non-renewable exploitation of resources.

“Opencast mining on paper is now banned, but none of the concessions already made have been made,” said Juan Mejia, an engineer with the Environmental Organization for Dignity and Justice in Honduras.

Honduras is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for environmentalists.

An activist from the Guapinol land defense movement, who wants to remain anonymous, says the Castro government’s statements are viewed with suspicion due to a lack of legal support. Until then, civil society organizations and activists have no tools to oppose separatism.

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Majia warns that some hydropower projects have also led to social conflict. He acknowledges that the government is open to listening to social movements, but regrets that the benefits of other extraction programs have not been revised.

Honduras is considered one The most dangerous countries For environmental activists around the world. At least 120 activists have been killed in the past two decades, mostly by people opposed to mining projects, including mining.

Indigenous people are demanding their land rights

In 2011, Guatemala’s Maya QC’s sued the American Commission on Human Rights for rights to their ancestral land. In August 2020, the Commission referred the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Court, an autonomous law firm in San Jose, Costa Rica.

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The lawsuit was probably funded by the community over a number of years ago. Lack of consensus has led local communities to halt Solway Investment Group’s Fénix mining project dedicated to nickel mining in 2021. In April 2022 Confident The Constitutional Court ruled that the proposals were illegal, even though the Guatemalan government had approved them.

Juan Carlos Villacron, an independent consultant on environmental issues, says that despite these processes, the mining company’s operations have not stopped. Although the verdict is in favor of the community, there is still much to be done in Guatemala to ensure that these rulings are followed, Villagron said. He points to the high budget, compulsion and the need for companies to regulate environmental research, which are mandatory in these types of mining projects.

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Central America, a region in crisis

These are developments that can be seen as steps in the right direction. But in the case of Panama and Honduras, there are still no legal frameworks for implementing and implementing the plans, experts insist.

In other places, such as El Salvador, a different development is taking place: the country has been closed since May 2021. Joined To the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals and Metals, which promotes metal mining – even if such activity is prohibited by law.

In addition, Central America has lagged behind in recognizing many important agreements, such as the Escazú Agreement, which are needed to strengthen the protection of nature conservation and indigenous peoples and to effectively protect natural resources.

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