“Under capitalism, Mother Earth is converted into a source of raw materials, and human beings into consumers and a means of production, into people that are seen as valuable only for what they own, and not for what they are”. - Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
Rights of Mother Earth
The Rights of Mother Earth is a law and movement stating that nature must have basic rights, similar to the concept of human rights. This law is based upon the idea that humans and nature are interdependent. Nature is not only for our consumption, but has its own rights to life. The statement was written in Bolivia at the World Conference for Climate Change and Mother Earth in April 2010. I strongly encourage you to check out the Rights of Mother Earth
|World Conference for Climate Change and Mother Earth, Bolivia April 2010|
I was able to attend a meeting on the Rights of Mother Earth at Peoples’ Space located in KwaZulu - Natal University
At the meeting there was a panel discussion that included author, activist and environmental lawyer Cormac Cullinan and Tom Goldtooth, Director of the Indigenous Environmental Action Network. The panelists discussed their challenges, successes and ideas in the implementation of the Rights of Mother Earth into government constitutions and our global consciousness. As of now, Bolivia and Ecuador have incorporated the Rights of Mother Earth into their constitution and the city of Pittsburgh passed an ordinance recognizing the “rights of nature”. The ordinance in Pittsburgh elevates the rights of people, the community, and nature over corporate “rights” and challenges the authority of the state to pre-empt community decision-making.
The main objective of the meeting was a call for a paradigm shift in how we understand and use nature. We can no longer think of nature as a commodity, owned by a property owner who decides the
|Coal: Mountain Top Remova West Virginia, whyflies.com|
fate of the land. You cannot believe that nature is a commodity and at the same time believe in the rights of nature. By thinking nature is a commodity you are separating yourself from the natural system and not being part of a Mother Earth. As Cormac Cullinan explained, “you cannot simultaneously believe the sun moves around the earth and earth moves around the sun”.
|Oil: Tar Sands Canada, Futurismnow.com|
A paradigm shift will be a difficult feat for a world whose economy is based upon exploitation of resources from nature. In the past there have been shifts in consciousness and the way we view the economic system. For years the US economy was based upon the struggle, abuse and enslavement of millions of Africans, stolen from their communities and sold in marketplaces. At that time many western leaders couldn’t imagine an economy without the free-labor of African slaves. Obviously, the rights of mother earth and emancipation of slaves in the US are two very different struggles. But our current economic system is based in the ideology of stealing “resources” (coal, oil, gold, forests for carbon trading) from impoverished countries and then taking those resources and selling them at an elevated rate in the global marketplace.
We must recognize our interconnectedness with Mother Earth and stop the commodification nature. Only when this shift of consciousness take place, will we be able stop the destruction of our planet.
Outlined below is the law that enumerates seven specific rights to which Mother Earth and her constituent life systems, including human communities, are entitled to:
To life: It is the right to the maintenance of the integrity of life systems and natural processes which sustain them, as well as the capacities and conditions for their renewal
To the Diversity of Life: It is the right to the preservation of the differentiation and variety of the beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered, nor artificially modified in their structure, in such a manner that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential
To water: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components
To clean air: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components
To equilibrium: It is the right to maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes
To Restoration: It is the right to the effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities
To live free of contamination: It is the right for preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities