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Global Exchange Brings Rights of Nature to the 2012 Earth Summit (Rio+20)

by Shannon Biggs

In partnership with the Global Alliance, Shannon Biggs and Global Exchange will be a strong voice advocating Rights of Nature at 2012 Earth Summit Rio+20.  The following includes excerpts from Shannon’s blog of 7th June 2012.

Read her complete blog at Global Exchange Brings Rights of Nature to the 2012 Earth Summit (Rio+20)

So why should we care about the Rio+20 (years) Earth Summit this June?

Earth Rights Now For many activists currently packing their bags for Rio, the goal is to protest the “Green Economy”, the name given to the primary agenda for the Rio + 20 negotiators. What could be wrong with a Green Economy, you may ask? Haven’t environmental activists been promoting such a thing for years?

The Green Economy put forward by the United Nations Environment Program (nicknamed the “Greed Economy” by many) is about promoting the idea that we can only “save” nature by putting a price tag on what nature “does” for us. Proponents call it “ecosystem services” and from forests generating the air you breathe to the decomposition process resulting in the ground you walk upon, everything has its price, and corporations are wringing their hands with anticipation of what the Greed Economy could do for profit margins.

But the human connection to the rest of our living system is not contained in the calculation of the “flow of value to human societies.” Our Earth’s value is not merely that which serves people. You cannot put a dollar value on what is truly lost when island nations like the Maldives succumb to the rising tides of climate change, or when the seas themselves are void of fish—both of which are projected to occur in the next 50-100 years. So how is it possible to put a price on the system that governs all life, or break down an ecosystem into units of “service” and to what end?

Confronting the Greed Economy: The Rights of Nature goes to Rio

Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real ChangeRights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change report being released for Rio+20

Those of us working on the rights-of-nature framework are seeking to reconnect humanity with the rest of species. We seek to change human law that can only “see” nature as a thing — separate and apart from us, property to be owned and destroyed at will. We seek to change the law because our own salvation can only come from a cultural mindset enforced by an earth jurisprudence that we are a part of nature.

Global Exchange and our partners at the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN), a growing network we co-founded, don’t believe putting a price on nature is the path to protecting nature, and in fact is a faster-track to privatizing and commodifying nature. But we’re not showing up just to stand up for what we’re against, but to articulate what we’re for, and to build the movement for Rights for Nature. We’ll be blogging from Rio, convening strategy meetings with new allies, talking with media and unveiling our new report at a special panel and signing ceremony for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

Rights of Nature Panel and Formal Signing Ceremony: Sunday June 17, 9:30am RioCentro T3

Rights of Nature Speakers:

·Nnimmo Bassey – Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria

· Shannon Biggs – Global Exchange, USA

· Cormac Cullinan – EnAct International, South Africa

· Tom Goldtooth – Indigenous Environmental Network, USA

· Natalia Greene – Fundación Pachamama, Ecuador

· Osprey Orielle Lake – Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus, USA

· Linda Sheehan – Earth Law Center, USA

· Dr. Vandana Shiva – Navdanya, India

· Pablo Solon – Focus on the Global South, Former Ambassador to the UN, Bolivia

The report directly confronts the notion of the Gree(d)n Economy of course, and is full of examples from around the world. But it is also a call out about what a true rights of nature framework would offer the world—and includes examples and updates of the growth of this movement, and new laws taking hold. And lastly, the report asks: if nature had rights, how different would our organizing look around water, Tar Sands extraction and Indigenous rights? And what would the economy look like? Contributors to the report include Dr. Vandana Shiva, Pablo Solon, Tom B.K. Goldtooth, Mari Margil and many others.

The report, Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change will be available for free download from our website on June 15. Until then, we’ve selected two chapters for free preview and download now:

For more information on Global Exchange’s Community Rights Program and our international work advocating for Rights of Nature, please visit our website.

For a full calendar of Rights of Nature events at the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit, go here.

The Community Rights Program has entered a contest to win $5,000 towards advancing our work around engaging youth in the Rights of Nature movement! Please vote for our project on the Doing Good This Summer website. Voting begins Friday June 8th at 12pm and ends Friday June 29th at 12pm.

Read Shannon’s complete blog at Global Exchange Brings Rights of Nature to the 2012 Earth Summit (Rio+20)