April 9th, 2019

Peru is a microcosm of the world’s environmental challenges. A country endowed with dense jungle, soaring mountains, and one of the richest marine ecosystems on Earth, Peru is a nature photographer’s dream. Yet these same splendors attract individuals with nefarious motives — people and companies eager to strip Peru of its minerals, timber, and wildlife. When we add in crippling poverty and a lack of government resources, we have a recipe for environmental disaster.

No area is more emblematic of this toxic mixture than Madre de Dios. Ground zero for Peru’s illegal gold-mining industry, Madre de Dios, home of jaguars and pink river dolphins, is now infamous for scenes like this:

The scale of the destruction wrought by illegal mining in Madre de Dios can only be appreciated from air. Photo Credit: SkyTruth

Yet, despite all the challenges, there is reason for hope. Acting through the Comision Nacional de Gestion Ambiental del Poder Judicial, the Peruvian judiciary is leading the charge for the creation of a new relationship between State, citizen, and nature. On November 21, 2017, the judiciary released a simple but powerful document committing itself to improve the environmental rule of law in Peru. The one-page document, known as the Pacto de Madre de Dios, contains ten core principles designed to chart a course toward heightened access to justice, transparency in environmental decision-making, and effective prosecution, among other goals.

Following the release of the Pacto de Madre de Dios, the judiciary contacted Sea Shepherd Legal to engage our participation. We proudly signed on to the Pacto on 29 March 2019. The signing ceremony could not have been better timed, as we were in Peru for other work related to shark conservation on that very day.

Attendees gather at Lima’s Palacio de Justicia to sign the Pacto de Madre de Dios.

To ensure that the Pacto de Madre de Diosdoes not stand as a mere paper pledge, the signing entities have been asked to describe the ways in which they will contribute to the achievement of the document’s purposes. Sea Shepherd Legal will be providing Peru with a list detailing the projects through which we offer our long-term support.

We thank Peru’s judiciary for the privilege and honor of being part of this important effort to improve justice for Peru’s natural heritage.

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