The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Katherine Quaid, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network,

Milestone for Women Land Defenders in Latin America & Caribbean: Historic COP1 for the Escazu Agreement


From April 20 - 22, countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region are convening for the first, historic meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to address the Regional Agreement for the Access to Information, to Public Participation an Access to Justice on Environmental issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, also known as Escazu Agreement.

The accord is a legally binding multilateral treaty expanding to all countries in the LAC region, and is particularly unique in centering the rights and access needs of vulnerable populations and environmental defenders when considering projects that impact the environment.

Latin America specifically is one of the deadliest regions for environmental land defenders. In 2020, 227 land and environmental defenders were killed - with over two-thirds of killings taking place in Latin America. This violence has a significant impact on local communities and the safeguarding of vital ecosystems. Many studies have shown that the most effective way to protect biodiverse regions is to protect the rights and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.

This week, during the COP, the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) launched a new online resource to provide legal analysis and support for women land defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean in accessing and protecting their human rights through the

Articles of the Escazu Agreement.

The resources provide legal analysis, research, and evaluation of how the Escazu Agreement can be best implemented in different countries. Please explore the reports by country here.

On April 19, 2022, WECAN hosted a COP1 side event, "Implementing the Escazu Agreement: Opportunities and Implications for Women Land Defenders and Human Rights Advocates," in support of women land defenders. During the side event panelist Patricia Gualinga, a Kichwa Indigenous Leader and Spokesperson for Mujeres from Sarayaku, Ecuador, stated:

"There were many land defenders killed last year. We stand with women. This is a women's fight. [The current] economic model does not work. I think this model violates our ability to live in a healthy and just world. The Escazu Agreement highlights all elements we fight for-- highlights access to information and highlights demand for justice. The government threatens us, they do not take care of us-- the citizens, the women fighting. We need to protect those protecting the Amazon.There is no justice for us but we will keep on fighting as women-- with and for our communities. We, civil society, will keep fighting."

Throughout the event, women policy makers, Indigenous leaders, and human rights defenders discussed the challenges women face in securing human and Indigenous rights, participating in climate and environmental policy, and the importance of proper implementation of the Escazu Agreement to ensure rights and access are upheld and protected. Please watch the recording here to hear from all the speakers.

The Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) International is a solutions-based organization established to engage women worldwide in policy advocacy, on-the-ground projects, direct action, trainings, and movement building for global climate justice.