Colombia: 'historic' high court ruling on Amazon

In an April 6 decision being hailed as "historic," Colombia's Supreme Court of Jutsice ruled in favor of a group of 25 young people and children who brought suit against the state to demand it take measures to assure their right to inherit a healthy environment. They asserted that their future food security and access to water is threatened by continued deforestation in the Amazon and other ecological degradation. In its ruling, the court also noted Colombia's responsibilities on a global level to halt deforestation, as carbon dioxide releases from forest loss contribute to the greenhouse effect. The youth in the case were represented by lawyers from Colombia's Environmental Justice Network (Red por la Justicia Ambiental). (El Tiempo, April 8; Contagio Radio, April 6)

Ironically, Colombia's peace process appears to be contributing to destruction of the Amazon, with ranchers and agriculture moving into areas of the rainforest vacated by the demobilized FARC guerillas. The area deforested in Colombia jumped from 124.035 to 178.597 hectares between 2015 and 2016 as the peace deal took effect. One of the most impacted areas is the former FARC stronghold of San Vigente del Caguán in Caquetá department. This area has been targeted by a new government program designed to address the crisis, Amazonía Sostenible para la Paz (Sustainable Amazon for Peace), which is to provide credit and aid for low-impact development in the zone. The program, overseen with aid from the UN's Global Environment Facility, is later to instate projects in the other Amazonian departments of Guaviare, Caquetá and Putumayo. (Mongabay, April 20; El Espectador, April 4)