About Us | Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) Skip to content Skip to navigation

We protect the right to a healthy environment.

AIDA uses the law and science to protect the environment and communities suffering from environmental harm, primarily in Latin America.

  • Our attorneys understand the legal and political context: they are both from and live in Latin America.
  • Our team includes scientific advisors whose knowledge and experience are employed to strengthen our legal strategies in defense of the region's people and environments. 
  • AIDA is a regional organization that enforces and strengthens international law, with team members from Chile to the United States.
  • We provide free legal expertise and scientific support that bridges the gaps between communities, local movements, national organizations, governments, and international authorities.
  • Our team has 20 years of experience in wielding the power of international law to win conservation gains for the region.

Our History

AIDA bridges the gaps between communities, local movements, national organizations, governments, and international authorities.

Latin America is home to some of the world’s greatest environmental treasures. As the “lungs of the planet,” tropical forests in 23 Latin American nations sustain human populations everywhere. Natural resources extracted in Latin America provide raw materials, food, and energy that support contemporary lifestyles.

As globalization took hold, Latin America experienced an expansion of industrial activities that governments welcomed as agents of development. Mines, dams, other energy infrastructure, tourist resorts, and more were built without adequate protections for the environment or for communities — especially indigenous and other disempowered communities.

Affected people were fighting urgently to protect their territories and their right to a healthy environment. To help them, dedicated advocates and environmental organizations took on the joined forces of industry and government. Working with scarce resources, the organizations focused primarily on national efforts.

Some of these organizations realized they could not rely on domestic legal systems alone to prevent or limit harms caused by a globalized economy. They had to begin using international law, advocating at international institutions, and collaborating across borders to generate regional results and promote shared goals.

In 1998, to fill a gap in expertise with respect to international law and advocacy, environmental law groups from Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and the United States founded an independent organization — AIDA — to build and extend the capacity of national advocates. AIDA’s founders were Centro de Derecho Ambiental y de los Recursos Naturales (Cedarena, Costa Rica), Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA, Mexico), Earthjustice (USA), Fundepublico (Colombia), and Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA, Peru).

Soon organizations and movements from throughout Latin America began asking AIDA to provide legal assistance in environmental and related human rights matters. As government and international institutions became familiar with AIDA’s attorneys and gained trust in their expertise, they, too, requested AIDA’s legal support.

Today, AIDA bridges the gaps between communities, local movements, national organizations, governments, and international authorities.

  • Saved the homes of 25,000 people by stopping a massive dam project in Mexico.
  • Protected endangered green sea turtles by reforming and enforcing Costa Rican law.
  • Conserved a recovering coral reef by preventing damaging tourism development in Mexico.
  • Saved an ancient native forest in Chile from clear-cutting. 
  • Protected thousands of children and women by drastically reducing toxic emissions from a US-owned smelter in Peru.
  • Protected the freshwater supply for millions of people by compelling Colombia’s government to ban mining in high-altitude wetlands.
  • Strengthened the human right to a healthy environment in Mexico's Constitution.

For many years, we have witnessed AIDA’s important work in the Americas. In our field, it is relatively easy to identify the NGOs that are doing the most serious and professional work, and AIDA is undoubtedly one of those.

Mauricio Lazala, Deputy Director, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

50 California St., Suite 500
San Francisco, CA, 94111
Telephone: (415) 217-2156 
Fax: (415) 217-2040
[email protected]

Dr. José Ma. Barragán 766 - Ground floor 1
Narvarte Oriente, Mexico City, 03023
Telephone: +52(55) 5212-0141
[email protected]

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