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20 Years of Victories

In collaboration with local, national, regional, and international partners, AIDA played a key role in these and many other victories for people, places, and the planet.

  • 1998-present

    Peru strengthens national air-quality regulations and begins specialized health monitoring for children in the city of La Oroya, site of an industrial complex that spewed tons of lead, arsenic, and other toxic pollutants.

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  • 1999

    Legal fishing of endangered sea turtles ends when Costa Rica’s Supreme Court upholds the constitutional right to a healthy environment.

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  • 2001

    Boise-Cascade withdraws plans for a wood-processing plant that would have led to clear-cutting on a large native forest in Chile, after AIDA files the first citizen petition to the Chile-Canada Free Trade Commission.

  • 2002

    AIDA establishes a process for citizens to enforce the Ramsar Convention, an international agreement for the protection of wetlands, leading Costa Rica to ban oil drilling in its Caribbean waters.  

  • 2006

    Chile’s government stops plans to build a massive aluminum smelter and a hydropower project that threaten pristine waters in Patagonia, thanks to AIDA’s coordination of an international coalition in multipronged advocacy.

  • 2007 – Present

    AIDA helps stop a series of massive tourism developments near Cabo Pulmo, site of a 20 million-year-old coral reef that supports more than 800 marine species at the tip of Baja California, Mexico.

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  • 2007

    Ecuador’s Constitutional Tribunal orders a halt to toxic pesticide contamination from palm-oil plantations in a biodiversity hotspot, requires the government to monitor the situation, and directs plantations to remediate the damage.

  • 2008

    Costa Rica’s Supreme Court protects leatherback sea turtles and orders the government to limit development within the National Leatherback Marine Park.

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  • 2008

    Colombia’s Constitutional Court declares the national forestry law unconstitutional and upholds the right of indigenous people to give their free, prior, and informed consent to development projects that affect them.

  • 2010 – present

    AIDA establishes and coordinates the Environmental Justice Network of Colombia, through which environmental organizations build their capacity for advocacy and collaboration.

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  • 2010

    For the first time in Costa Rica, an appellate court cancels a large gold-mining concession because it violates national laws and poses environmental risks—preserving a river that supports great biodiversity and 32 communities that depend on it for their livelihoods.

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  • 2011

    Costa Rica’s Environment Ministry preserves healthy habitat for fish stocks and sea turtles when it denies a permit for a tuna farm, ending a seven-year campaign to bring industrial aquaculture to the Southern Pacific coast.

  • 2011

    After five years, five months, and five days of legal advocacy and litigation, Costa Rica publishes the regulation that implements its national fisheries law, providing a means to enforce marine protection.

  • 2011

    Mexico strengthens human rights protections and adds the right to water to the Constitution.

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  • 2011

    For the first time, the Colombian Ministry of the Environment denies a permit for a gold mine because it would degrade Santurbán Páramo, the water source for millions and habitat for threatened and endangered species.

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  • 2012

    In a precedential ruling that stops a massive mine, Colombia’s Constitutional Court strengthens the rights of ethnic and indigenous communities, specifying that they must have access to environmental impact assessments before giving their free, prior, and informed consent to projects that affect their territories.

  • 2012

    Mexico’s government recognizes violations of environmental and human rights laws and halts construction of La Parota Dam, preventing displacement of 25,000 people.

  • 2012

    Mexico’s Marismas Nacionales (National Wetlands), home to 60 endangered species, are saved from destruction when the Ramsar Secretariat declares a massive tourism complex unviable; AIDA joins the National Wetlands Commission.

  • 2012–17

    Legal action leads Costa Rica to pass a law banning the cruel practice of shark finning. Five years later, AIDA’s expertise in international law adds weight to a criminal case that, for the first time in the country, punishes a shark-fin profiteer.

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  • 2013

    Panama’s Supreme Court rules against resort developers and affirms protected status for Panama Bay, a wildlife refuge that shelters endangered jaguars, sea turtles, and other endangered wildlife.

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  • 2014

    Mexico adopts a National Wetlands Policy that AIDA helped develop; it complies with international obligations to conserve and restore wetlands and provides for public participation in their management.

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  • 2015

    To prevent environmental, health, and climate damages, AIDA creates and coordinates a Regional Alliance on Fracking, composed of more than 30 groups from Central and South America.

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  • 2015

    Panama’s Supreme Court nullifies a Ministry of Environment resolution that would have allowed up to 90% of the water in rivers, lakes, and other waterbodies to be used for large infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric dams.

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  • 2000–16

    Sustained advocacy leads Colombia to curtail indiscriminate aerial spraying of glyphosate, a toxic herbicide, on forests, fields, rural villages, and national parks.

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  • 2011–17

    AIDA helps shape the Green Climate Fund, a United Nations-based fund for climate projects in the developing world; the Fund’s board adopts policies informed by AIDA’s input on gender, transparency, proposal review, public participation, and indigenous and tribal people’s rights.

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  • 2016

    Colombia’s Constitutional Court issues a ruling that bans mining in páramos, sensitive high-altitude wetlands that supply water to millions, support great biodiversity, and mitigate climate change.

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  • 2016

    The International Finance Corporation, a lending arm of the World Bank, divests from a mining project in Colombia after its internal watchdog finds that the bank didn’t follow its own environmental review standards; the decision reinforces the responsibility to protect precious water-producing ecosystems from mining degradation.

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  • 2017

    AIDA provides legal and scientific expertise to citizens of Cajamarca, Colombia, who held a public referendum on whether to ban mining in their biodiverse territory; 98% reject mining in favor of environmental protection.

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  • 2017

    Colombia adds its largest coastal mangrove forest, the Ciénaga Grande, to the Montreux Record of the world’s most endangered wetlands, committing to use international technical and financial support to bring the area back to health.

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  • 2017

    Costa Rica adopts a National Wetlands Policy, informed by AIDA’s participation on the National Wetlands Committee; it protects roughly seven percent of the nation’s territory. 

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  • 2017

    Colombia’s Constitutional Court establishes a key precedent by holding that the Atrato River has the same legal right to be unharmed as people, ordering the government to clean up toxic mining contamination in the river.

  • 2018

    Following 15 years of advocacy by AIDA to establish the link between environmental and human rights harms, and in a decision that incorporates many arguments provided by AIDA in written and oral testimony, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognizes the right to a healthy environment as fundamental to human existence, adopts environmental protection as part of the obligation to protect human rights, and recognizes the link between climate change and human rights.

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  • 2016

    AIDA establishes and coordinates the Environmental Justice Network of Bolivia to strengthen local capacities in the use of law and litigation for environmental protection.

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