Bolivia to grant rights to nature

Begonia Filgueira | 11 years ago

Yesterday we heard that Bolivia was set to pass the first ever law granting right to Nature, or as they put it to “Mother Earth”. Congratulations to everyone involved in drafting and promoting this law – you are almost there!  With Evo Morales’ Party (the Movement Towards Socialism) having a majority in Congress and the Senate, this law may become a reality within days.  It is a wonderful legal milestone, which I have been advocating for a number of years as the only way to balance the rights that humans have with the protection of the Planet and ultimately the human race.

I will analyse this law in the coming weeks.  I will explore the actual text of the law and its practical implications for a country that has both the cultural heritage to support this law and a number of environmental issues arising from its profitable mining industry which can put in peril the very cycles of Mother Earth it wishes to protect.

The Law itself

The First Article of this law sets out itsobjective:

“To recognise the rights of [Mother] Earth, and the obligations and duties of a Pluri-national State and of society to guarantee these rights”

The law then goes onto introduce a number ofprinciples which are to govern both its interpretation and implementation, namely:

§    Harmony –  human activities must be guided by the dynamic cycles and inherent proceeds of the Earth;

§     The good of the collective – the rights of society as a whole within the framework of Earth Rights will prevail over rights granted to individuals;

§     Guaranteeing the Earth’s regeneration – human acts must preserve the Earth’s capacity to regenerate itself acknowledging that  the Earth has a limited capacity to absorb harm before its function and structure are altered

§     Respect and protection of the Earth’s Rights – the State, individuals and society have a duty to respect and protect the Earth’s Rights for the good of present and future generations.

§     Non commercialisation – life processes and those things that sustain them shall not be commercialised nor be part of a person’s private property

§     Multiculturalism – in order to exercise the Rights of the Earth we must recognise the values, knowledge, lore, technology, science, ability of those cultures that wish to live in harmony with [Mother] Earth.

So in one text Bolivia has recognised the Rights of Nature, society and those of future generations.  Further this law  enshrines principles which are to influence interpretation of the wider body of Bolivian law.  Will “La Paz” be so appropriately named as to kick start a more harmonious and peaceful relationship between humans and the planet?

Part 2 of this article will appear on Eric next week.  In the mean time please post your comments.

About the author

Begonia Filgueira

Begonia is a specialist in Environmental Law, governance and negotiation. Her career now spans 20 years having started as an environmental lawyer in the City. She is a dually qualified UK Solicitor and Spanish Abogada who provides legal advice, trains professionals and carries out complex research in the areas of International and EU environmental law. She also advises on treaty negotiations and implementation of EU law. Begonia has advised UNEP, UNDP, the European Commission, DEFRA and DOENI. She also advises industry and NGOs on environmental policy and regulation. BREXIT negotiations is her current area of specialism.