16 Colombian congress representatives attended an event on August 17, in which socio-environmental organizations asked them to prioritize relevant environmental issues.

August 17, 2022 – Socio-environmental organizations and coalitions including International Rivers convened a meeting Colombian congress representative with with the aim of promoting four legislative initiatives that seek progress in the implementation of public policies guaranteeing human rights and the care and protection of the environment.

The initiatives include two law projects, one on environmental democracy and another for the protection of rivers, and a proposal to give continuity to the Accidental Commission to monitor and verify large-scale coal mining activity in the Colombian Caribbean. In addition, the meeting called for the inclusion in the National Development Plan of a ruling from 2016 by the Constitutional Court of Colombia to bestow the Atrato River with rights including conservation, maintenance, and protection.

That ruling, Judgement T-622, was the result of a suit brought by Indigenous communities seeking to protect the Atrato watershed from serious environmental deterioration caused by illegal mining, logging and other environmental violations.

“In this moment of civilizing and environmental crisis, it is necessary to act and that is the call that put us today we make to congress representatives from socio-environmental organizations and social movements,” said Catalina Caro Galvis, coordinator of the mining conflicts area of ​​Censat Agua Viva.

Viviana Tacha, director of the Socio-legal Center for Territorial Defense SIEMBRA, stated: “We are at an ideal political moment to present to Congress legislative initiatives built from social organizations to solve socio-environmental conflicts, to promote environmental democracy, protection of rivers and curbing open pit coal mining.

The representative for Tolima, Martha Alfonso, said: “Twenty years ago we could not imagine having an environmental caucus today in the Congress of the Republic and even less an environmentalist government, today we have them and that is the product of this social base that managed to change public opinion in Colombia. We place our seat at your disposal for all the advocacy actions that these initiatives imply.”

Each of the sixteen congress representatives present expressed their support and backing for the initiatives, as stated by representative Juan Carlos Lozada: “Tell my colleagues in congress that this is a project that is really worth supporting and that we must process decisively and promptly, we must even seek the support of the ministers and why not, that the government signs it”.

In attendance for this event were congress representatives Juan Carlos Losada, Leyla Rincón, Martha Alfonso, Karmen Ramirez Boscán, Martha Peralta and Andres Cancimance, and the work teams of Aída Avella, Angelica Lozano, Alirio Uribe, Duvalier Sánchez, Gabriel Parrado, Gustavo Bolivar, Imelda Daza, Alirio Uribe, Roberth Daza and Wilson Arias.