May 20, 2019

Coordinating efforts exposing heavymetal pollution

Meeting with community members
Meeting with community members

I’m writing this update from the cloudy and cold city of Lima, as I prepare to meet with families that were forced to move from La Oroya to the capital due to the health effects of long-term exposure to heavy metals. I visit Peru often to meet with our clients, both in La Oroya and Lima, and treasure the time we get to spend together discussing the case and addressing their concerns.

This visit, we’ve been focused on strategy and coordination. Between meetings, conversations, presentations and preparations for a national hearing, my objective is clear: listen to the communities, exchange concerns, and define our strategy together.

We work for them, they are the priority and we are here to support them.

In La Oroya, together with APRODEH attorneys, I visited members of Junín and Huancayo communities who we accompany in our case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.

We came to update them on relevant information regarding the case, and discuss our legal strategy going forward, and the impacts it could have.

Earlier this week, we attended a meeting organized by a coalition of people from across Peru, all of whom have been affected by heavy metal pollution. We shared experiences and lessons learned, and began to compile evidence collected of the impacts of various sources of toxic pollution.

Our objective was to help the communities prepare a united front for a public hearing organized by local authorities and civil society coalitions, focusing on the environmental and human health impacts of toxic pollution that will be taking place on May 22. AIDA will not be present but the affected communities we represent will participate.

AIDA is a regional organization, and as such we work hand in hand with local organizations to ensure our clients permanent and accessible support. We work hand-in-hand with APRODEH, and we couldn’t do this work without them.

Together we will discuss and define our litigation strategy in order to continue providing the best possible support for our clients and their communities.

Apr 1, 2019

Educating governments on coral reef protection

School of midnight blue parrotfish // Bill Goodwin
School of midnight blue parrotfish // Bill Goodwin

With the objective of advancing the protection of coral reefs, from the Mesoamerican Reef System to the Antilles, we're conducting outreach to decision-makers from across the region. 

Our latest tool to do so is a Fact Sheet titled, Herbívorous fish and coral reefs: a relationship we must protect. 

It outlines the vital role parrotfish and other herbívorous fish play in the health of marine environments, by cleaning the algae that deprive corals of light and oxygen. 

In the Fact Sheet and in our outreach to decision-makers, we offer the following recommendations for saving these fish, vital for maintaining the ecological equilibrium necessary for the reef's survival: 

  1. Establish and adopt strong fishing management and conservation strategies that will help herbivorous fish (particularly parrotfish) populations recover. This includes fishing management initiatives, establishing temporary or location-based bans, and strict quotas on fishing. Other measures include encouraging fisheries to diversify the species they capture. In the Caribbean, for example, fishing for lionfish—an invasive species—could be promoted as a viable economic alternative in hundreds of fishing communities.

  2. Establish marine protected areas and recovery zones where fishing is prohibited. These areas or zones, which should include at-risk habitats, need urgent protection because they are considered refuges for juvenile and adult fish. Allowing herbivorous fish species to complete their life cycles would contribute to the resilience of key marine environments like coral reefs.

  3. Standardize monitoring techniques of fish populations and implement alternative management practices. Encouraging optimal standard practices would allow scientists working in diverse habitats to improve monitoring, as well as fishery and ecosystem management. Among other options, reef restoration is also extremely beneficial, and has already been adopted in several areas of Mexico.

  4. Promote comprehensive regional management systems that allow local authorities to share experiences and establish shared management and conservation tools.

  5. Create and implement norms and laws that protect reefs and herbivorous fish. These could include laws that promote adequate fishing management practices and effectively combat threats like overfishing and tourism that damage reef habitats. Such laws could also encourage low impact coastal development that incorporates thorough scientific and technical evaluation into the planning process.

Targeted measures are urgently needed to maintain and improve the health of coral reefs. We're working so that governments and authorities throughout the Americas understand that protecting the colonies of herbivorous fish that sustain them would go a long way toward helping reefs recover.

We couldn't do it without your support. Thank you for your commitment to conserving the health and vibrancy of our coral reefs. 


Apr 1, 2019

Informing the United Nations of Human Rights Risks

Photo by Amazon Watch / Maira Irigaray
Photo by Amazon Watch / Maira Irigaray

In January, we called on the United Nations to help us defend the rights of indigenous and traditional communities affected by the Belo Monte Dam. 

We sent a report to the United Nations Rapporteurs on the Human Rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, rights of indigenous peoples, and human rights and environment about new facts related to the risk situation of these communities of the Xingu River basin.

Early this year, a new hydrological system will be implemented: the Consensus Hydrograph will reproduce the seasonal rhythm of filling and drying that characterizes the natural water flows of the Xingu River.

It will gravely impact the socio-environmental diversity of an area called Volta Grande do Xingu.

We wrote the Rapporteurs requesting their input and recommendations on measures that Brazil should take in order to avoid the implementation of the Hydrograph.

We believe their comments can help contribute to an open dialogue and solutions that favor human rights. 

We wrote because the new system will entail the violation of the right to safe drinking water, life and integrity, and will additionally threaten the possibility of cultural survival of indigenous peoples and traditional communities from various villages located in the Volta Grande.

Other rights that are threatened include: the right to food, the right to health, the right to the environment, the right to the continued practice of their way of life and the right to collective property of land and natural resources.

We believe now is the time for international dialogue, considering the urgent need to resolve this issue, and the irreversible threat to their rights.

Thank you for your continued support for the people of the Xingu River basin, as we seek to protect them from further damages. 

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