Forest with trees cut down
(Photo credit: Matt Zimmerman / Wikimedia)

A group of Colombian children and young adults sued their country’s government for making climate change worse by failing to stop deforestation – and they won.

Camila Bustos is a student at Yale Law School and was one of the young plaintiffs in the 2018 case.

“Essentially we were arguing that deforestation in the Amazon is violating our constitutional right to a healthy environment,” she says, “which in turn threatens other rights such as the right to life, water, food and health.”

Colombia’s Supreme Court ruled in their favor. It ordered municipalities to update their land management plans and develop concrete strategies to reduce deforestation.

The government has been slow in making progress to comply with the ruling. Bustos says deforestation in Colombia is a complex social, economic, and political problem, and it won’t be solved overnight. But she says this legal verdict is an important step in the right direction.

“It’s part of a larger puzzle of addressing climate change, and it’s part of the toolkit that we have to tackle this crisis,” Bustos says. “And it has definitely raised a lot of awareness and put a lot of pressure on the national government.”

And she says it’s yet another example of how young people around the world are leading the charge and demanding climate action.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.