Humanity is facing the greatest crisis of its existence. The future of life as we know it is at risk, and this is because the logic of maximum profit for the benefit of the few has been imposed on a finite planet with limited and fragile resources. Over-exploitation, excessive mineral resource extraction, over-consumption and unbridled waste are altering the vital cycles of nature. The countdown triggered by the capitalist system has begun, and we cannot remain idle in the face of this genocide and ecocide.
It is essential that we recover our humanity and end this logic of commodification and privatization imposed by capitalism. We need to strengthen and recover our indigenous roots of respect for Mother Earth. We must listen to the scientific community that alerts us to the interdependence of all elements of the Earth system. And we must create – and recreate – economic models that preserve the regenerative capacity of nature. In short, it is urgent that we share and embrace the essence of the rights of Mother Earth.
The concept of the rights of Mother Earth, rather than just a legal construct, are a call to change our relationship with nature, to stop treating it as an object and recognize that we are all part of the Earth community. The rights of Mother Earth tell us that everything on our planet is interconnected, that life is only possible thanks to a multiplicity of factors such as the bees, the rain, the proper flow of temperature in the atmosphere, and other elements of the Earth system.
To talk of the rights of Mother Earth is to recognize that humans are not the only beings that have a right to exist, but that we share this right with plants, animals, rivers, glaciers, forests and all members of the Earth system. Humans can use nature, but always within certain limits, and preserving the balance of ecosystems and the Earth as a whole. To cut down some trees may be necessary to establish a new human settlement, but to destroy an entire forest or exterminate an animal species is a crime that will sooner or later end up taking its toll on humanity.
The rights of Mother Earth are an appeal to respect the integrity of all life forms and ecosystems and to stop using genetically modified organisms, synthetic biology, pesticides, nanotechnology, nuclear energy, geoengineering and other technological applications that substantially alter the structure and the vital cycles of nature.
The rights of Mother Earth are a call to leave in the ground more than two thirds of the known fossil fuel reserves in order to prevent a catastrophic escalation of natural disasters due to increased greenhouse emissions.
The rights of Mother Earth are a route to reclaiming the principles of food sovereignty and forms of production that are tailored to local needs, preserving the diversity of seeds and local cultural practices. The construction of mega dams, large-scale mining projects and industrial corridors only dries out rivers, kills fish, leaves lacerating wounds on the Earth and displaces hundreds of thousands of peasants and indigenous people. For the benefit of a few corporations, we are putting in danger the life of humanity itself.
The rights of Mother Earth are the opposite of the “green economy” that seeks to put a price on ecosystem functions and to create new speculative markets such as carbon trading, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), or the proposed “climate smart agriculture.”
The rights of Mother Earth are opposed to the foundations of the notion of payments for environmental services. Nature must be protected because it is our home, not in exchange for monetary compensation. Yasuni National Park in the Amazon region of Ecuador is the home of indigenous peoples and immense biodiversity that is threatened by extinction, and it is currently one of the few living rainforests on the planet that cannot be destroyed on the grounds that the expected economic compensation has not been achieved.
The rights of Mother Earth are a call to replace the paradigm of growth with the paradigm of harmony. It is a call to end the wasteful over-consumption of a minority that tears apart humanity and nature. We can only guarantee the survival of the vital cycles of nature if we overcome developmentalism and the vision of progress that imposes the logic of capital on everything. Our Mother Earth contains all that is required to guarantee a happy life for all of humanity as long as there is an equitable distribution that respects the carrying capacity.
The rights of Mother Earth are intrinsically linked to the need for real participatory democracy, where megaprojects are discussed and decided on by the people, and not by the market and financial elites.
The legal concept of the rights of Mother Earth has been included in the Constitution of Ecuador, in the Law of Mother Earth’s Rights of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth adopted in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2010, and many other local and municipal-level initiatives in other countries. This legal practice has to be replicated, extended, complemented, and above all, implemented in reality.
The fight for the rights of Mother Earth requires unity among all those who today from different initiatives are fighting against fracking, large-scale mining, the burning of fossil fuels, genetically modified organisms, the privatization and commodification of water, land grabbing, nuclear energy projects, unemployment, the destruction of social security, authoritarianism and other ills.
We call on all the daughters and sons of Mother Earth to join forces globally to develop initiatives to reflect, share and mobilize around the paradigm of the rights of Mother Earth. It is a time for debates, press conferences, fairs, marches and all sorts of initiatives to strengthen the struggle for a society in which harmony prevails between humans and with nature.
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature