Inter American Court recognises Human Right to Healthy Environment

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The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has issued a landmark opinion that equates environmental protection with human rights, a conclusion that could force countries in Latin American and beyond to tackle climate change more aggressively.

The advisory opinion represents the first time the Inter-American Court has recognized a fundamental right to a healthy environment, a concept that may seem abstract but could impact interpretations of existing laws and improve environmental protection.

That concept isn’t new, but it hasn’t been widely applied by courts. The opinion comes at a time when a number of climate lawsuits have been filed around the world to try to establish the same or similar legal principles and pressure fossil fuel companies and governments to cut emissions.

“We think this decision will be used as a tool to strengthen ongoing litigation on human rights and the impact of climate change nationally and internationally,” said Astrid Puentes, co-director of AIDA, an advocacy group that filed an amicus curiae brief in this case.

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