The Constitutional Court of Colombia has declared the Atrato River a rights-bearing subject, creating a commission of government representatives and community members to restore and protect the river. Xiména Gonzalez, an advocate, lawyer and spokeswoman for the Center for Studies for Social Justice Tierra Digna, explains how illegal gold mining and mercury have polluted Colombia’s third-most important river and threatened the livelihoods of people in the Chocó region. In granting rights to the Atrato River, the Court also curbed the use of toxic substances for the extraction of minerals, promoting sustainability and health for the communities that depend upon the Atrato’s waters. Photo credit: Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund