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Within the 2030 Agenda, States affirm the need to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights (including the right to development), on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels, and on transparent, effective, and accountable institutions. Effective laws and policies and strong institutions provide the necessary foundation for environmental protection and enforcement in order to create resilience to environmental crises, stop environmental crime and reduce future pandemic risks. These aims, encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 16, its targets, and its indicators, provide an enabling environment for inclusive, sustainable and green recovery from the COVID- 19 pandemic. A number of targets for Goal 16 outline procedural rights and guarantees, on what can be termed “access rights” – access to information, public participation in decision-making, access to justice.
The expected outcome of this event is an expanded regional dialogue with key stakeholders on access rights in the Asia and the Pacific.
The effective establishment of dialogue around these issues could seed the foundations of a wider framework in Asia and the Pacific, such as the “Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters” (Aarhus Convention) in Europe, and the “Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean” (Escazu Agreement). Such regional agreements reinforce the foundation for environmental rule of law and uphold access rights in environmental decision making.