Gloria Silvia Orellana - Diario Co Latino

In El Salvador, the commemoration of “World Environment Day” of 2020 is marked by the ravages that the tropical storms Amanda and Cristobál have brought on homes, ecosystems, and the population, as well as by the food and health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic. The “World Environment Day” of 2020 has evidenced the poverty and vulnerability of the population within the national territory. 

With the slogan "For the planet, water and territory", the XX Ecological Walk was carried out online given the current health and climate situation. The online Ecological Walk allowed the various environmental, human rights, religious, women, and youth organizations that make up this space, to carry out an evaluation of the state of the country's natural resources.

The General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) designated June 5 as World Environment Day. Since the 1970s, the UN has been developing initiatives, calls, and messages with the aim of raising awareness across humanity and its member states on the urgent commitment to preserve, rescue, and restore the planet's natural resources.
Morena Murillo, a member of the National Alliance against Water Privatization, pointed out that the social struggle continues from the civil society, at the community, local and national levels. In order to contribute to the promulgation and promotion of the population's comprehensive human rights and become benchmarks for addressing various problems that affect them, civil society must carry out the social struggle. This has led civil society to transcend social movements in the region and Latin Americans in search of equity for health and collective well-being rights.
"To this environmental crisis, the added crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic also impacts us nationally and internationally. To date, there are more than 6 million people affected in the world, and 375,013 deaths, a serious impact on people. El Salvador is not left out of this situation with 2,718 confirmed cases and 52 deaths and more than 3,000 people in quarantine centers and many frightened people who have gone out to ask for food carrying white flags. The World Environment Day anniversary is commemorated at a difficult time for humanity, where countries must reflect and support the need to rebuild a new development model, such as decent housing and access to drinking water, " Murillo said.
Meanwhile, Omar Flores from the Foundation Studies for the Application of Law (FESPAD) as well as part of the National Alliance against Water Privatization, stated that for decades the Ecological Walk served to address issues such as water rights, food sovereignty, the effects of climate change and the defense of rights defenders human and the vulnerability of the population to natural phenomena. 

“Human rights defenders, and especially environmental defenders, play an important role. A role that is not easy to carry out in the normative and institutional conditions of the country, since El Salvador does not have a regulatory framework to protects the defenders. Moreover, the Government of El Salvador has not signed the so-called Escazú Agreement, which basically recognizes the right of access to information in environmental matters, citizen participation in environmental matters, legal and judicial protection in environmental matters, and their protection as environmental defenders,” Carlos Flores explained. Among the demands presented to the State authorities, Luis González, from the Salvadoran Ecological Unit, pointed out that, given the environmental problems that impact El Salvador, it was urgent to ensure food security for families affected by COVID-19 and due to climatic events that impact the segments of the population with less economic resources.

“The issue of risk and disaster management must be planned, as well as implementing all the plans required by the Law on Civil Protection, Prevention, and Mitigation of Disasters. And the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN) must stop granting environmental permits to developers or structural projects that can increase the vulnerability of the Salvadoran territory, such as the real estate development project Valle El Ángel,” González expressed.
Likewise, it has been recommended to the Legislative Assembly the recognition of the human right to water, the ratification of the Escazú Agreement, and the resumption of the discussion of the Food Sovereignty Law.
Meanwhile, the Movement of Victims Affected by Climate Change and Corporations (MOVIAC) indicates in its statement its concern about the "non-existent Environment policy" in the country. This absence is evident in the low budget granted to the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources while keeping a low profile towards the destruction of ecosystems of incalculable natural value.
“In the northern region of San Salvador, an important aquifer recharge area is being eliminated to build an urban complex called Valle El Ángel. Meanwhile, the Salvadoran state is still being indifferent to it”.
Similarly, in municipalities such as Santo Tomás, San Julián, and in many other places, forest predation continues, as well as the contamination of water sources and the inadequate disposal of solid waste. Likewise, in the coastal zone, the monoculture of sugar cane expands without any control, exhausting water sources, eroding biodiversity, contaminating the soil, and affecting public health," as declared by the members of the MOVIAC.
“We demand the approval of a Law for the Promotion of Agroecology, which ensures the conditions of access to land and other productive resources for rural and indigenous families, guarantee strategic reserves of basic grains and the creation of a survival strategy in the face of climate change. Such law must be implemented within the Comprehensive Risk Management Policy and it must reactivate the National Civil Protection System," as affirmed by the members of the MOVIAC.

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Translated: Giada Ferrucci