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Access to Environmental Justice in Peru: Challenges and Progress

by Anghy Aquino | 28-03-2024 14:18 recommendations 0

Access to environmental justice is a fundamental aspect of ensuring the protection of natural resources and the well-being of communities. In Peru, a country rich in biodiversity and natural resources, the issue of environmental justice is of paramount importance. Despite significant legal frameworks in place to protect the environment, challenges remain in ensuring that all citizens have access to justice when environmental rights are violated.

Legal Framework

Peru has made considerable progress in developing legal mechanisms to protect the environment. The Constitution of 1993 recognizes the right to a healthy environment, and subsequent laws and regulations have established environmental standards and procedures for environmental impact assessments. Additionally, Peru is a signatory to various international agreements and conventions aimed at promoting environmental conservation. 


Despite these legal advancements, several challenges persist in ensuring access to environmental justice:

Legal and Institutional Barriers: Complex legal procedures and institutional inefficiencies can hinder access to justice for those affected by environmental violations. Legal processes can be lengthy and costly, particularly for marginalized communities with limited resources.

Social Inequality: Marginalized communities, including indigenous groups and rural populations, often face disproportionate impacts from environmental degradation. These communities may encounter barriers such as language barriers, lack of legal awareness, and limited access to legal representation. For example, the rural High Andean communities of Peru. These communities, which are the most vulnerable to the impacts of environmental violations by mining companies or other industries, do not even have telephone service to file a complaint. In addition, most of them are Quechua-speakers and do not know how to read or write.

Conflict of Interest: In some cases, there may be conflicts of interest between economic development projects and environmental conservation efforts. This can create tensions between affected communities, government agencies, and private industries, further complicating efforts to achieve environmental justice. A great example of a conflict of interest is the La Oroya Metallurgical Complex. One part of the population of La Oroya supports this complex, claiming that it has brought many economic benefits, while another has denounced it before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos - CIDH) for contamination and damage to health and the environment. 

Enforcement and Compliance: Despite having robust environmental laws, enforcement mechanisms may be inadequate, leading to a lack of compliance and impunity for environmental offenders. Weak enforcement undermines the effectiveness of legal protections and erodes public trust in the justice system. Non-compliance with punishments and penalties for environmental crimes is another major challenge in Peru. There are many offenders who get away with it and want to escape the law, including the very authorities that should be an example for citizens, such as the Provincial Municipality of Huancayo, which the OEFA (The Environmental Evaluation and Oversight Agency) denounced in 2014 for environmental damage and which to date does not take significant corrective measures in its dumps that continue to affect the rivers and the population.

Progress and Initiatives

Despite these challenges, there have been some efforts to improve access to environmental justice in Peru.

Community Empowerment: Civil society organizations and grassroots movements play a vital role in advocating for environmental rights and providing support to affected communities. These groups work to raise awareness, provide legal assistance, and hold authorities and corporations accountable for environmental violations. A great example is the Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental - SPDA), a civil association with educational and scientific purposes related to the care and protection of the environment.

Virtual Platforms for Environmental Complaints: Peru currently has virtual platforms where people can file environmental complaints. One of them is the National Information and Environmental Complaints Service (Servicio de Información Nacional y Denuncias Ambientales - Sinada). Through such initiatives, the Peruvian state is trying to promote the right of access to environmental justice for its population.

Transparency and Accountability: Increasing transparency and accountability in environmental decision-making processes can help prevent conflicts and ensure that the interests of affected communities are adequately considered. Public participation mechanisms, access to information laws, and independent monitoring are essential for promoting accountability and fostering trust in environmental governance. OEFA has been making progress in this area.

Access to environmental justice is essential for safeguarding the environment, protecting human rights, and promoting sustainable development in Peru. While challenges persist, ongoing efforts to strengthen legal frameworks, empower communities, and improve enforcement mechanisms are crucial steps toward achieving environmental justice for all. By addressing these challenges collaboratively and promoting inclusive and participatory approaches, Peru can ensure a more equitable and sustainable future for its people and its environment.

Reference materials:

Benavente García, S. (2015, October 15). El derecho de acceso a la justicia ambiental. Sistema Nacional de Información Ambiental (SINIA). https://sinia.minam.gob.pe/documentos/derecho-acceso-justicia-ambiental



  • Peru Former E-gen Ambassador Anghy Aquino
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Seeun Mentor

  • Seeun Mentor says :
    Hello, this is mentor Seeun!
    It??s amazing to read about Peru??s progression!
    I hope this kind of movement continues in the future.
    Thank you for your report!
    Posted 30-03-2024 22:21

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