The Role of Courts in Advancing the Right to a Healthy Environment: Lessons from Latin America

Latin America has been at the forefront of judicialization of a right to a healthy environment. Courts in different countries have curbed burning and deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, as well as the expansion of wind farms in Mexico; they have ordered the clean-up of river basins in Argentina and ordered the protection of important ecosystems in Colombia. Some high courts have embraced ‘rights of nature’ and have fashioned innovative structural remedies, which have included the creation of new institutions. Nonetheless, there is a very mixed record on implementation of the judgments and a complex political economy around creating public policies that advance the effective enjoyment of rights to a healthy environment in a region wracked by economic inequality and the outsized power of extractive and other commercial interests. Justices from Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil, will discuss the evolution of this jurisprudence in their respective countries, and a panel discussion will follow that examines challenges as well as successes.

In recent years, the term “climate justice” has taken central stage in an overheating planet with unequal repercussions. The Human Rights Program, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, the Petrie Flom Center, and the Harvard Human Rights Journal are organizing a series of Climate Justice events on March 28 and 29. The Series will convene leading experts on issues ranging from the role of courts in protecting the environment in Latin America to African perspectives on international climate change law.

Members of the Harvard community and members of the public are warmly invited to all sessions of the HLS Climate Justice series.

This event is part of the Series of Climate Justice Events at Harvard Law School.


Are you hosting a Harvard-affiliated event that is related to climate change and/or sustainability? Please submit your event to the Salata Institute event calendar using this quick form! We look forward to sharing your event with the Harvard community.

Submit Your Event