January 21st, 2021
Constitution would prohibit mining and oil activity in moorlands

The Presidency of the Republic published Decree No. 052 of January 19, 2021, ordering the publication of draft Legislative Act No. 022 of 2020 Senate - 458 of 2020 Chamber "by which the Political Constitution of Colombia is reformed in its Article 79 adding a clause that expressly prohibits the exercise of mining exploration and exploitation activities in moorland ecosystems - first round" (the "Draft "). 

If the Draft is definitively approved, Article 79 of the Political Constitution of Colombia would read as follows: 

"Article 79: All persons have the right to enjoy a healthy environment. The law shall guarantee the participation of the community in decisions that may affect it. It is the duty of the State to protect the diversity and integrity of the environment, to preserve areas of special ecological importance and to promote education for the achievement of these ends.

The exploration or mining of any type or hydrocarbons in moorlands ecosystems and their buffer zones is prohibited. Urban and suburban expansion and high impact activities in these ecosystems are also prohibited. 

The municipalities, through the tools of territorial planning, will establish the uses in ecosystems adjacent to the moors that could generate damage to them, especially in relation to artisanal and subsistence mining in the buffer zones, in order to mitigate the negative impact on these ecosystems" (Underlined and bolded outside the text).

The Draft Legislative Act shall pass through a second round, meaning four (4) additional legislative debates (two (2) debates in the Senate of the Republic and two (2) in the Chamber of Representatives). For the approval of the Draft Legislative Act an absolute majority is required.

Please note that, according to Decision C-242 of 2020 issued by the Constitutional Court, the Congress must discuss constitutional amendments, preferably, by on-site meetings, that means, once Congressmen can meet again, considering current COVID-19 restrictions in place. 

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