Colombia’s Supreme Court has ordered the executive branch as well as other national, regional and municipal authorities to take urgent action to protect the Amazon rainforest.
The court’s ruling was issued Thursday after a group of young activist between the ages of seven and 26 filed a lawsuit against the government claiming their right to life, food, and water were being violated.
The court agreed, stating that “without a healthy environment, subjects of law and living beings, in general, will not be able to survive, let alone safeguard those rights for our children or for future generations.”
Deforestation in the Amazon increased by 44 percent between 2015 and 2016 alone with estimates stating that between 56,953 to 70,074 hectares have been decimated due to illegal mining, farming, and logging, contributing to climate change and “imminent and serious damage to children, teenagers, and adults who presented de lawsuit, and generally, to all inhabitants of the national territory, both for present and future generations.”
According to the court, “despite numerous international commitments, regulations… the Colombian state has not effectively addressed the problem of deforestation in the Amazon.”
Rights group Dejusticia backed the lawsuit, Camila Bustos, a researcher for the group, celebrated the ruling saying it “marks a historical precedent in terms of climate change litigation.”
The Supreme Court ruling included the recognition of the Amazon rainforest as an “entity subject of rights,” granting it the same rights as humans.
After the ruling, the Colombian government will have four months to draw up a plan of action to reduce deforestation and greenhouse gasses to zero, the incorporation of environmental protection measures in municipalities’ development and territorial ordinance plans, and the effective implementation of policing, judicial and administrative policies in the Amazonian territory.