I’m sitting here surrounded by Central America’s leading environmental and human rights lawyers. I’m lucky because I find myself in groups like this quite regularly. Every time I travel for work, I have trouble leaving home – saying good-bye yet again to my husband and three year old daughter.
But the minute my plane lands, I’m transported. Not only do I get to see old friends and meet new ones – sharing family photos and stories about our lives since we last met – but I get to hear about their current work and renew my energy to do this work that I love so much.
I get to sit at a table of people from different countries who are fighting the same battle against different mining companies. I get to sit with people strategizing about better ways to protect the rights of their local communities. And I get to work with these amazing people who put their lives at risk on a regular basis to pursue justice.
On the first day of this meeting we spent some time reflecting on justice. What is justice? How do we get justice? Do our laws make space for us to pursue justice for the community displaced for a tourism development on the coast? Is a court the best place to find justice for the community whose water source is polluted by a mining company?
We have two more days to reflect on this as we talk about the region’s environmental problems and how we can all work together to represent the communities impacted by mining, oil development and dams – and how we can work together to address climate change and help design a better way forward.
by Staff Attorney Jen Gleason