An Intergenerational Ecological Jurisprudence: The Supreme Court of Colombia and the Rights of the Amazon Rainforest
In 2017, 25 young Colombians, aged 15 to 25, filed the first climate change and future generations lawsuit in Latin America (the Amazon case). Assisted by the organisation Dejusticia, the young plaintiffs filed an accion de tutela—a special mechanism under the Colombian Constitution that allows individuals to demand the protection of their fundamental rights. The plaintiffs argued that the current deforestation rates and their destructive consequences were violating their future right to a healthy environment. Remarkably, the Supreme Court of Colombia, in which the action was filed, ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, granting their petition and guaranteeing their right to enjoy a healthy environment, as well as their future rights to life, health, food and water. To enforce its judgment, the Court ordered that the Colombian Government formulate an action plan and an intergenerational pact to protect the Amazon. Most importantly, the court went beyond the grounds raised by the plaintiffs and recognised the Amazon rainforest as a subject of rights. Located within a growing network of constitutional, legislative and judicial initiatives in a growing number of jurisdictions, the Amazon case is but one example of the emergence of a novel ecological jurisprudence that is emerging around the globe. The Amazon case is particularly emblematic, as it reveals a profound ontological shift among younger generations, for whom a purely anthropocentric worldview appears to be increasingly representative of an untenable sense of alienation. The Amazon case also creates hope for a world in which an ecological jurisprudence is at the core of the current intergenerational discourse, the focus of which appears to be the global reconceptualisation of our collective self for generations to come.