AIDA celebrates Court decision to protect Colombia's páramos

The high court ruling is expected to affect hundreds of mining licenses currently existing in Colombia's paramos. | Credit: Aztlec / Flickr.

February 9, 2016

Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Monday declared unconstitutional an aspect of the country’s National Development Plan that permitted mining in páramos. 

Bogota, Colombia. The Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) celebrates the decision of Colombia’s Constitutional Court to ban mining in the country’s páramos. The ruling—which nullified an article of the 2014-2018 National Development Plan protecting previously granted mining licenses—is vital to the preservation of Colombia’s freshwater resources, and should serve as an example for other countries in the region. 

AIDA and partner organizations presented an amicus brief in support of the corresponding lawsuit, filed by the Cumbre Agraria, Campesina, Étnica y Popular. The court’s ruling brings justice to these important freshwater ecosystems and the many people that depend upon them.

Although they occupy just 1.7 percent of the national territory, Colombia’s páramos provide 70 percent of its fresh water. The sensitive ecosystems are also strategic reserves of biodiversity, and act as carbon sinks essential to the mitigation of climate change.

The high court’s decision is key to the protection of the Santurbán páramo, on which hundreds of thousands of people in the Bucaramanga metropolitan area depend. AIDA has long been working to defend Santurbán from large-scale mining and to provide support to affected communities. 

AIDA urges the Ministry of the Environment to promptly enact the court’s ruling and protect all the country's páramos from the impacts of large-scale mining operations.