As 2015 comes to a close, we’d like to draw your attention to the environmental stories and successes that make us so proud to do what we do. Our attorneys work tirelessly to defend the right to a healthy environment in the Americas. Achieving long-sought victories, listening to world leaders take a stand for the environment, and seeing national governments set precedents in conservation provide us with the inspiration to continue to fight for our Earth, full speed ahead.
Here’s a rundown of the stories we, and our readers, were most excited about this year:
In February, the Panamanian government approved a national law that bestows protected-area status on the Panama Bay Wetland Wildlife Refuge. Though recognized as an ecosystem key to freshwater supplies and biodiversity preservation, the Panama Bay wetlands have been threatened in recent years by infrastructure and development projects.
AIDA welcomed the law, which our attorneys helped to strengthen, as a breakthrough in national wetland protection and an important example for other countries in the region. (read more)
In May, the Colombian government suspended the widespread spraying of glyphosate – a toxic chemical recently recognized as a carcinogen – in rural areas across the country. The spraying was part of a US-finance program to destroy coca and poppy crops. While proving ineffective in the war on drugs, the spraying has for years damaged sensitive natural areas, water sources and wildlife, destroyed crops, and displaced vulnerable populations.
AIDA has advocated for 17 years for the program’s suspension, which comes now as an important advance for justice and environmental law in Colombia. (read more)
Mining was finally added to the list of activities threatening loggerhead turtles (caretta caretta) throughout the region. In June, the member parties of the Interamerican Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Marine Turtles (CIT) signed a policy intended to protect the threated species and its habitats.
They also pledged to work to implement conservation plans in countries where they do not yet exist. (read more)
The Chilean government in October announced the creation of the largest expanse of protected ocean in the Americas, in turn aiding in the conservation of a unique array of marine life. The marine protected area, roughly the size of Italy, stretches between the mainland of Chile and Easter Island. It’s impressive size accounts for nearly eight percent of the world’s protected ocean areas.
Off-limits to fishing and governed by no-take protections, the creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park sets a powerful example for coastal nations worldwide. (read more)
3.3 million acres! That makes the brand new Sierra del Divisor National Park one of the largest protected areas in Latin America. Announced in November, to the acclaim of international conservationists and local communities alike, the park’s creation is intended to protect the indigenous peoples and rich biodiversity of the area from threats arising from logging, mining and drug trafficking. (read more)
The second largest coral reef system in the world will remain protected from offshore oil exploration, thanks to a new national policy approved December 1. The Belize Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Site comprised of 7 protect areas over 3,400 square kilometers, is the equivalent of 15 percent of Belize’s marine territory. (read more)
In a historic meeting this December, world leaders successfully created a new global climate accord, in hopes of maintaining an emissions cap that will limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Though a long road remains ahead in the fight against climate change, the so-called Paris Agreement is an important step in ensuring all countries, developed and developing, can effectively work to prevent and prepare for the adverse effects of a changing climate. (read more)
That’s right – YOU are one of the year’s biggest stories. Environmental activists and concerned citizens around the world have long been rising up to make their voices heard. In Paris and around the world this year, unprecedented numbers of people took to the streets to call for climate action, the protection of natural places, and respect for the indigenous cultures that have long been the guardians of this Earth.
Every time you decided to walk or bike instead of drive; to recycle or compost your waste; to buy local and to eat smart; to work, volunteer or donate to an environmental cause, you helped combat climate change and contributed to the fight for justice for the environment and all the creatures that call this planet home.
All the best stories that come to light, all the struggles and successes, none of them would be possible without the passion and voice of the people!
So THANK YOU, and Happy New Year!