Inalienable rights of nature

12 years ago

Equador's proposed new Constitution will grant nature rights to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution" and will grant legal standing to any person to defend those rights in court.

The Constitution recognizes nature or "Pachamama," a goddess revered by indigenous Andean peoples whose name roughly translates into "Mother Earth", as having a right to persist, to be restored when impacted, to be protected, for the purpose of well-being and to form natural wealth.

As the linked article notes, granting rights to nature departs from the usual practice in the west which hold that rights can only be possessed by humans (and of course humans possess nature). But there is some precedent for granting rights to non-humans including the US's granting rights to corporations (free speech and due process) and Spain has recently granted certain rights to apes. It also follows on the recognition by spiritual and religious leaders from the Dalai Lama to the Catholic Church that caring for the environment is a spiritual duty.

It is interesting and not surprising to see this come about in a society with a spiritual tradition for deifying nature and I wonder exactly how it will translate in court battles over the rights of nature vs the rights to use and profit from nature and especially in issues like lumber, agricultural (loss of rainforest), oil and mineral rights.

Here are the articles:

Chapter: Rights for Nature

Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.

Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.

Art. 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems.

In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation on non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences.

Art. 3. The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.

Art. 4. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.

The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited.

Art. 5. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow wellbeing.

The environmental services are cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State.

Here is a link that might be useful: The rights of nature

Comments (23)