3 men standing together holding a sign that says Escazu

#HLPF2021 as Experienced by Local Peacebuilders: An Interview with Daniel Antonio Martín Villar

We sat down with our member Daniel Antonio Martín Villar from Centro de Colaboración Civica Mexico to talk about his personal experience participating in the 2021 High-Level Political Forum.

Was it the first time you participated in the HLPF? How often do you engage in similar spaces? 

It was my first time engaging in the HLPF. Although we regularly carry out participatory diagnostics, this was the first time we actually presented our findings at the global level. Mexico is not as much on the global radar; therefore, these opportunities do not come often. In this sense, the Forum has been a unique opportunity to shed light on the critical situation of human rights and environmental defenders in Mexico.  

What have you presented at HLPF? Can you briefly explain the process of writing the CSO Report on SDG13 & SDG16? Who was involved and how?

At HLPF, we presented a report on the state of implementation of SDG13 and SDG16 as experienced by local communities. The process has been truly a multistakeholder process. To develop a report, we carried out both in-depth interviews and surveys with local leaders in Mexico whose work is related to SDG13. It was the first time we reached out to someone in the financial sector and it made all the difference: We are used to hearing climate risks as social risks, but rarely do we get to hear someone perceive climate risks as financial risks. A multistakeholder approach as such helped us not only get important findings expressing various sides of the story but also provided us with opportunities to get new audiences with whom civil society seldom speaks. 

Do you think your participation in the HLPF made a difference? If so, what impact/difference did it make? 

Mexico is going through a serious crisis of violence in which environmental defenders and indigenous rights advocates are being harassed and even killed. Sadly, an indigenous defender who dared speak against the violence in the state of Chiapas was killed the week before the event. The forum helped us make a clear statement against the violence and a call for the quick implementation of the Escazú Agreement as an instrument for peace and security for human rights defenders in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as elsewhere. Having the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as part of the convening group for the discussion definitely helped to raise awareness on the issue in front of key stakeholders in the region.

The Forum also helped us build and enhance a variety of partnerships. We engaged with the Office for the Agenda 2030 in the region and tightened the relationship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will be in charge of leading the implementation of the Escazú Agreement in Mexico. Furthermore, it allowed us to present our work to potential donors and ensure the continuity of our efforts to advance the rights of human rights and environment defenders and subsequently the sustainability of peace.

How do you plan to use your SDG13 CSO Report in the future? What are the concrete next steps?

We intend to have a follow-up, more in-depth report that covers the technical needs for the full implementation of the Escazú Agreement and the environmental SDGs. We have already begun mapping some key stakeholders and will be conducting the first interviews with them in August; after that, we will build a framework that will be shared with decision-makers to help them assess the next steps so that the implementation can respond effectively to the problems identified by civil society.

What do you think could have been done better during the HLPF? 

The most complex part was gaining some political attention through a virtual platform. I think people are getting tired of online events and attention is lost faster nowadays; maybe, having the event live-streamed could have helped increase the reach, but given the sensitive nature of what was spoken about, I think it was very well done.  

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope common sense and peace-longing can overcome greediness. We have done so much damage to our planet and we are now facing the consequences. Luckily, we’ll be able to come around and push the right buttons to at least mitigate the impacts of our wrongdoings. 

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