Past Initiative News

OAS and UNEP Sign Agreement on Environmental Rule of Law and Sustainable Development

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
November 19, 2014

The Organization of American States and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate in fostering respect for environmental laws and sustainable development, in a ceremony that took place in the context of the Global South-South Development Expo of the United Nations, taking place at this week at OAS headquarters in Washington DC.

Representing OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, his Chief of Staff Hugo De Zela signed the document, highlighting that “it is a welcome coincidence that the event is taking place in a global forum that is focusing on scaling up cooperation for sustainable development and in a panel that has discussed innovation for the green economy, neither of which is possible without adherence to the Rule of Law.” Ambassador De Zela added “We believe that in the OAS we have the right tools to support this global cooperation in the implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements that have been ratified by member states,” said Ambassador De Zela, “such as the Bali principles, the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Sustainable Development Decision Making, as well as processes such as the World Congress on Justice Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability and the Forum of Presidents of Parliaments that recently met in Lima and that adopted important decisions regarding the environmental rule of law and sustainable economic growth.”

Moreover, the Chief of Staff of the OAS Secretary General said “it is our hope that this agreement will contribute to addressing the greatest challenge of our century: implementation.” “We look forward to continuing our close relationship with UNEP as we move toward the next milestone – the Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law to be held in conjunction with UNEP and the Caribbean Court of Justice next March,” he concluded.

For his part, the Undersecretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, emphasized the importance of the relationship of his organization with the OAS, which he called “a positive, constructive, and engaged partner.” “By joining hands we are creating a platform and also a network for the judiciary which is becoming an ever more important part of trying to provide countries and societies with legal recourse on issues related to the environment,” said Director Steiner. In his conclusion, he said “We are deeply committed and grateful for the partnership with the OAS and look forward to jointly serving the interests of your countries and our member states in the UN.”

The initial stages of this collaboration will cover the implementation of an Inter-American Judicial Capacity Building Program on Environmental Rule of Law; and the establishment of an Inter-American Congress on Environmental Rule of Law; (ii) the strengthening of role of parliamentarians and facilitating international exchange of best practices on legislation and oversight on environmental rule of law in pursuit of sustainable development.

Other areas of collaboration include support for the implementation of the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Sustainable Development Decision Making and the Bali Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; assisting countries to implement Multilateral Environmental Agreements; and exchange of information on Sustainable Consumption and Production through the International Resource Panel.

Present at the signing ceremony were the Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS, Leonidas Rosa Bautista, whose country occupies the Chair of the Inter-American Committee for Sustainable Development; and the Director of the OAS Department for Sustainable Development, Cletus Springer, among others.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at