Archive for Rio+20

Human Happiness and the Environment – Address by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica at Rio+20 Earth Summit

To all of the authorities present here, from every latitude and organization, thank you very much. I want to thank the people of Brazil and Mrs. President, Dilma Rousseff. Thank you all for the good faith undoubtedly expressed by all of the speakers that preceded me.

We hereby express our innermost will as rulers, to adhere to all the agreements our wretched humanity, may chance to subscribe.

Notwithstanding, let us take this opportunity to ask some questions out loud. All afternoon long, we have been talking about sustainable development, about rescuing the masses from the claws of poverty.

What is it that flutters within our minds? Is it the model of development and consumption, which is shaped after that of affluent societies? I ask this question: what would happen to this planet if the people of India had the same number of cars per family as the Germans? How much oxygen would there be left for us to breathe? More clearly: Does the world today have the material elements to enable 7 or 8 billion people to enjoy the same level of consumption and squandering as the most affluent Western societies? WIll that ever be possible? Or will we have to start a different type of discussion one day? Because we have created this civilization in which we live: the progeny of the market, of the competition, which has begotten prodigious and explosive material progress. But the market economy has created market societies. And it has given us this globalization, which means being aware of the whole planet.

Are we ruling over globalization or is globalization ruling over us? Is it possible to speak of solidarity and of “being all together” in an economy based on ruthless competition? How far does our fraternity go?

I am not saying any of to undermine the importance of this event. On the contrary, the challenge ahead of us is of a colossal magnitude and the great crisis is not an ecological crisis, but rather a political one

Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man; and life. Because we do not come into this planet simply to develop, just like that, indiscriminately. We come into this planet to be happy. Because life is short and it slips away from us. And no material belonging is worth as much as life, and this is fundamental.But if life is going to slip through my fingers, working and over-working in order to be able to consume more, and the consumer society is the engine-because ultimately, if consumption is paralyzed, the economy stops, and if you stop economy, the ghost of stagnation appears for each one of us, but it is this hyper-consumption that is harming the planet. And this hyper-consumption needs to be generated, making things that have a short useful life, in order to sell a lot. Thus, a light bulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours. But there are light bulbs that last 100,000 hours! But these cannot be manufactured, because the problem is the market, because we have to work and we have to sustain a civilization of “use and discard”, and so, we are trapped in a vicious cycle. These are problems of a political nature, which are showing us that it’s time to start fighting for a different culture.

I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness.” But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.

This is why I say, in my humble way of thinking, that the problem we are facing is political. The old thinkers. Epicurus, Seneca and even the Aymara put it this way, a poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more.” This is a cultural issue.

So I salute the efforts and agreements being made. And I will adhere to them, as a ruler. I know some things I’m saying are not easy to digest. But we must realize that the water crisis and the aggression to the environment is not the cause. The cause is the model of civilization that we have created. And the thing we have to re-examine is our way of life.

I belong to a small country well endowed with natural resources for life. In my country, there are a bit more than 3 million people. But there are about 13 million cows, some of the best in the world. And about 8 or 10 million excellent sheep. My country is an exporter of food, dairy, meat. It is a low-relief plain and almost 90% of the land is fertile.

My fellow workers, fought hard for the 8 hour workday. And now they are making that 6 hours. But the person who works 6 hours, gets two jobs, therefore, he works longer than before. But why? Because he needs to make monthly payments for: the motorcycle, the car, more and more payments, and when he’s done with that, he realizes he is a rheumatic old man, like me, and his life is already over.

And one asks this question: is this the fate of human life? These things I say are very basic: development cannot go against happiness. It has to work in favor of human happiness, of love on Earth, human relationships, caring for children, having friends, having our basic needs covered. Precisely because this is the most precious treasure we have; happiness. When we fight for the environment, we must remember that the essential element of the environment is called human happiness.

See blog with Human Happiness and the Environment – Address by Uruguayan President Jose Mujica at Rio+20 Earth Summit  Translated by Verónica Pamoukaghlian.

America’s Deficit Attention Disorder by David Korten

Read the full article in YES! Magazine by David Korten

Money is the least of our problems. It’s time to pay attention to the real deficits that are killing us.  …

So long as money frames the debate, money is the winner and life is the loser. To score a political victory for life, the debate must be reframed around a narrative based on an understanding of the true sources of human well-being and happiness and a shift from money to life as the defining value.

A promising new frame is emerging from controversies surrounding the recent United Nation’s Rio+20 environmental conference. Wall Street interests argued that the best way to save Earth’s biosystems is to put a price on them and sell them to wealthy global investors to manage for a private return. Rather than concede the underlying frame to Wall Street and debate the price and terms of the sale, indigenous leaders and environmental groups drew on the ancient wisdom of indigenous peoples to challenge the underlying frame. They declared that as the source of life, Earth’s living systems are sacred and beyond price. They issued a global call to recognize the rights of nature.

Thus framed, the Rio+20 debate highlights a foundational and inherent conflict between the rights of nature, human rights, property rights, and corporate rights.

In current practice, based on the same financial logic that leads us to treat financial deficits as more important than social and environmental deficits, we give corporate rights precedence over the property rights of individuals. We give property rights precedence over the human rights of those without property.  And we give human rights precedence over the rights of nature.

We will continue to pay a terrible price for so long as we allow the deeply flawed logic of pure finance to define our values and frame the political debate.

Read the full article in YES! Magazine by David Korten

Dr. Vandana Shiva invites you to join her in India with Global Exchange

Excerpts from Shannon Biggs at Global Exchange.  Read the complete post at Spend a week with Vandana Shiva: Rights of Seeds, Rights of Nature

“I think it would be a really good idea at this moment in time, to do a Global Exchange trip to India on the issue of the seed…and the link to rights of Mother Earth. I mean where does all life begin? You begin with the seed.” Vandana Shiva collaborating with Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange

This journey will be an unforgettable opportunity of a life time to explore the deepest essence of Rights of Nature with Dr. Vandana Shiva on her Navdanya farm led by Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange.  Learn more about the Global Exchange Rights of Nature Reality Tour or sign up now!

Watch as Vandana describes the trip herself …

Rights of Mother Earth in People’s Summit Final Declaration

The social and popular movements, trade unions, people, civil society organizations and environmental organizations from around the world present at the People’s Summit at Rio+20 for Social and Environmental Justice experienced in the camps, mass mobilizations and debates the building of convergences and alternatives, conscious of the fact that we are the subjects of another type of relationship among human beings and between humankind and nature, tackling the urgent challenge of curbing the new phase of capitalist recomposition and building, through our struggles, new paradigms for society.

The People’s Summit is a symbolic moment in a new cycle of the trajectories of global struggles, giving rise to a new convergence among movements of women, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, youth, family and peasant farmers, workers, traditional peoples and communities, defenders of the right to cities and religions from around the world. The assemblies, mobilizations and the massive People’s March were the most powerful expressions of this convergence…

For the complete article visit:

For the People’s Summit Final Declaration visit:

A unified voice for Rights of Nature and Mother Earth at Rio+20

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I suggest to you that what we are seeing now are the early stages of a momentous change in society.  The pipe of the formal UN negotiations is blocked.  We can not get the dramatic change we need to save humanity and our society through these official channels.

But if you block the river, the river cuts a new path.  What you are seeing here are the early stages of a people’s movement cutting a new path to a better future for us all.” Cormac Cullinan

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature and Global Exchange hosted  Rights of Nature as the Foundation for Sustainability at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.  The event as included a Signing Ceremony for the Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth. Listen to our distinguished panel of Rights of Nature experts.

Rights of Nature Panel Ri0+20 June 17

Click to visit article and videos of each panelist

Click on the panelist’s name to view video from the Rio+20 Rights of Nature as the Foundation for Sustainability.

Pablo Solón
Linda Sheehan
Tom Goldtooth
Natalia Greene
Cormac Cullinan
Vandana Shiva
Shannon Biggs, moderator

Dr Vandana Shiva – Seed Freedom is Earth Rights

“Seed freedom is Earth Rights … it is the right of the seed in all its diversity and self organization to evolve into the future.” Dr. Vandana Shiva

Seed is the source of life and the first link in the food chain. Control over seed means a control over our lives, our food and our freedom…

At the Rights of Nature as the Foundation for Sustainability Side Event at Rio+20 Earth Summit, a young Zambian women asked “How to we return control of seed selection to the farmer and the restore the ability of rural farmers to save their seeds rather than being forced to by GMO seeds?”  It is currently against the law for farmers in Zambia and other countries to save their own seeds for replanting.  They are forced to by new seeds each season from multinational corporations.

Dr. Vandana Shiva eloquently responded by pointing out in 1930 Gandhi led the Salt March – Salt Satyagraha – to the sea against British salt laws because nature gives us salt for free.  “When I started Navdanya, we started with the idea of a Seed Satyagraha… Seed freedom is Earth Rights … the right of the seed in all its diversity and self organization to evolve into the future.”

Rights of Nature and Rio+20 – Seeds for the Future We Really Want

Rights of Nature and Rio+20 – Seeds for the Future We Really Want

A Report from Robin Milam, Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

My intention for Rio+20 was very specific: to make a bold statement for our planet and offer the recognition of Rights of Nature as a viable, positive solution for our Earth Community. Rights of Nature is the recognition that the natural ecosystems that sustain us have the right to exist, to persist, maintain and regenerate their vital cycles. Today we treat nature as property to be bought, sold and consumed, much like we once treated slaves. As advocates for Rights of Nature, we propose it is time to recognize nature and its ecosystems as a subject of the law such that the ecosystems themselves can be named as a defendant of the law.

Rights of Nature offers the foundation for true sustainability that is so missing in the formal UN negotiations. Moreover, it is a viable solution that is gaining traction globally and in over two dozen communities in the United States and was enthusiastically embraced by many participants at the Rio+20 conference.

In the face of what we knew would be a dismal outcome for the formal negotiations, my Global Alliance colleagues and I achieved far more on behalf of Rights of Nature than we had expected. We are encouraged by the breadth of the response we received and by the creatively that has been stirred by the global focus on Rio+20.

Front and center, the Future We Want ─ the formal Rio+20 document ─ actually includes a statement acknowledging that Rights of Nature. We have lobbied for the last year to have Rights of Nature language in the final document and succeeded in that endeavor. Linda Sheehan of Earth Law Center was a galvanizing force for us within the UN.

Article 39. We recognize that the planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that Mother Earth is a common expression in a number of countries and regions and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. We are convinced that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environment needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature.

Furthermore, the UN published a beautiful coffee table book for Rio+20 entitled Future Perfect. Rose.pdf The first two chapters in Future Perfect are about Rights of Nature.

Doris, Alexandra, Osprey and Robin with Hercules GoesThe Rights of Mother Earth Signature Campaign has a vision of gathering 1 million signatures in support of Rights of Nature. At this point, over 120,000 individuals from 113 countries and leaders of 186 organizations representing over 600,000 people have signed petitions. Among the distinguished signatories are Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Joanna Macy, Paul Hawken, Jack Canfield, Nnimmo Bassey, and many others. On June 21, the Rights of Mother Earth campaign delivered a package of signatures to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Later that day former Brazilian Senator Hercules Goes publicly presented the signature campaign document to President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil. Goes also arranged at least half a dozen interviews with UN Radio for the Global Alliance team and for Cormac Cullinan and Natalia Green to present a 30 minute Rights of Nature presentation on UN Television.

Rights of Nature Panel Ri0+20 June 17

Osprey Orielle Lake at Women's Earth and Climate Caucus Rights of Nature was a major theme in at least a dozen side events. The Global Alliance hosted events inside Rio+20 and at the People’s Summit entitled Rights of Nature as a Foundation for Sustainability & Rights of Mother Earth Signing Ceremony. Hosts of other related events represent diverse entities including the Blue Pavilion (water and oceans ), Peoples Sustainability Treaties: Rights of Mother Earth, the government of Ecuador, the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus, Future Governance beyond Rio, Vandana Shiva et. al.’s Visions of the Living Earth book signing event, Indigenous gatherings at Kari Oca2 and others. During Ecuador’s Rights of Nature and Bien Vivir event Cormac Cullinan publicly acknowledged President Correa and presented the results of our signature campaign,,

A series of books and reports advocating Rights of Nature were also released at the Conference:

  • Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change, a collection of essays published by Global Exchange;
  • Visions of the Living Earth: Future of Governance Post Rio, a collection of essays by Vandana Shiva, Leonardo Buff, and others;
  • Bolivia distributed their Proposal for a Law of Mother Earth ;· Foundation Earth published their The Economic Rethink – Who Does It Well? A report card for assessing what countries are taking “right actions” using Rights of Nature as a key criteria for assessing Rethinking our Economy Future Perfect by the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

While we were a small force, we showed once again that a dedicated team can make a difference. We were very present both at the UN Rio+20 and the People’s Summit Conferences. We put a bold stake in the ground with respect to the Future We REALLY Want.

Our message: Viable solutions do exist! Rights of Nature is the foundation for a sustainable future. With what we accomplished, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature sees Rio as a successful launch for the next unfolding of Rights of Nature.

Also posted by The Well of Light at

Rethinking society from the ground up – Foundation Earth

One of the most promising aspects of the recent Rio+20 Earth Summit are the creative juices that have been triggered to define new, viable solutions – or identify existing ones for that matter – to redirect the course for the future of our planet.  For Rio+20, Foundation Earth introduced The Economic Rethink: Who does it well? report card to assess what countries are doing some things right for our planet.  The report defines criteria for creating a “deep green economy” and assessing the status of necessary societal shifts in three key areas:  Economy, Ecology, and Equity.

Rights of Nature is defined as an Equity measure.  The first report reflects who is doing well on each of the 16 criteria and how does Brazil, Rio+20’s host country, compare.

Economic Rethink logo by Foundation Earth

The following excerpts are from The Economic Rethink:

The most important environmental or human rights policy is economic policy. That means changing the very basis of the failed system that created the problem. We need a deep green economy – not a green-washing economy. We must ecologize the economy. We can select where it is good to grow, but we must also select where to de-grow. Page three highlights societal shifts in the economic, ecological, and equitable areas to help us think about getting it all right.

Imagine people living without waste, with basic needs met, and in sync with the planet’s nourishing web of life. In our current maddening reality, it can be difficult to picture and achieve this better world. To start, we must help under-consumers (the malnourished and wanting) move up to a sustainable level of consumption while we assist over-consumers (the wasteful and indifferent) down. We must protect the remnants of wild nature and allow for damaged land, water, and sky to heal.

We reviewed more than a dozen scorecards that grade nations on their performance. In this report, we call attention to a short but meaningful list of shifts from around the world that begin to add up to what is necessary to save and restore our planet. We also looked at Brazil, host to global leaders at the June 2012 Rio+20 conference. How does Brazil (or your country) measure up? Remembering that the changes must be commensurate with the scale of the problems at hand, Brazil has a long way to go. Additional material, including footnotes, is on Foundation Earth website at We welcome your suggestions.

Imagine again for a moment: if every country made the changes suggested herein, we would be well on the way to a more socially just and ecologically sensible way of living – in just one generation. We hope this helps you picture a meaningful shift to a better world.

To view Foundation Earth’s Rio+20 Report Card visit The Economic Rethink: Who does it well?