by NNimmo Bassey
“It is time for humankind to humbly accept that we have arrived at the precipice of reckless living, exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth.”
The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama.
The prime anchor of the proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is that every element in Nature is interdependent and one cannot ignore the rights of the other without consequences. A grasping of this truth brings clarity to the fact that the Earth herself is finite and limited. It also helps us to grasp that if the resources of the Earth were used sustainably there would be enough to sustain every creature and living being in a continuously renewing manner.
Mahatma Ghandi rightly said that there is enough on Earth to meet everyone’s need, but not enough to meet everyone’s greed. This saying gets to the root of the matter. The interconnectedness in Nature demands that we deal respectfully with the bounties of Nature as well as with every other person. This is the pathway to sustainability.
…After acceding to water as a human right, it is time for the world to take the next necessary step to proclaim the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. This, in a manner of speaking, is the mother of all rights.
The urgency for this Declaration cannot be overstressed. Man’s exploitation of Mother Earth has left indelible scars that may never be healed.
The Declaration of the Right of Mother Earth demands a paradigm shift and a conscious effort on the part of man to own up to our errors and settle on amending our patterns of production and consumption. The respect of Nature and socio-cultural contexts would have far-reaching implications and would result in the building of healthy societies where harmony is maintained and the rights of all beings are respected.
At the heart of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth is the much needed assertion, promotion and protection of the sovereignty of peoples and other beings on Earth to grow in mutually beneficial relationships and support systems. For humans it would promote food sovereignty, energy sovereignty and sovereignty over territories and resources. It would truncate destructive exploitation, build resilience and strengthen the defence of all rights. This Declaration will provide the essential tool for the growth of global solidarity to take humankind into a civilisation based on sustainable principles.
In sum, the seeds of the real strategies to tackle climate change are embedded in the proposed Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It is time for humankind to humbly accept that we have arrived at the precipice of reckless living, exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth and that even if water is found on other planets only the very rich may make it there. And we must accept that even those who make it there may need more than one lifetime to make the distance. We have only one Earth, the blue planet floating in space. The future security of nations will be based on the global solidarity, and not competition and domination. As one environmental and social activist said, “Without local, regional and global solidarity and vice versa the substantial transformations in the bosom of humanity will never be made.”
Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.