Environmental Court Cases: Future Generations

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Natural Justice have developed a series of summaries of significant court cases from across the world related to climate change and rights of nature. These are designed for the public, policy makers and practitioners and provide a snapshot of cases that are being brought to courts in order to advance the protection and rights of nature, including seeking ways to hold governments accountable for their international commitments to reducing carbon emissions.

Future Generations v. Ministry of the Environment and Others

The Colombian government agreed to net-zero deforestation target under the Paris Agreement and its National Development Plan (2014-2018). The government failed to reduce deforestation in the Colombian Amazon , and instead deforestation in the area increased by 44% between 2015 and 2016. Deforestation accelerates and exacerbates climate change and its impacts. The Plaintiffs allege that the Amazon deforestation threaten future generations through accelerating the climate crisis. Furthermore, deforestation threatens the Amazon’s 15,000 tree species, up to 57% of which are endangered. According to the Court, the causes of the deforestation include land grabbing (60-65%), illicit crops (20-22%), illegal extraction of mineral deposits (7-8%), infrastructure, agro-industrial crops, and the illegal extraction of wood. The youth plaintiffs brought this case as a “tutela”, a legal instrument available to all Colombians to secure their fundamental constitutional rights against other individuals, corporations, or the government. A lower court ruled against the youth plaintiffs. Youth plaintiffs filed an appeal on February 16, 2018.

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