Monday, June 20, 2011

Bolivia has granted our planet legal rights, but how to enforce them?

Gabrielle Banks in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on a legal development that may not be so momentous now, but could be a harbinger: … Bolivia is taking a novel approach to natural stewardship by giving Mother Nature a voice and turning the American model on its head with a Bill of Rights for Mother Nature.

…Lawmakers in the landlocked country had a lot to tackle: the effects from generations of deforestation; unregulated silver, gold and tin mining; melting Andean glaciers and the iconic, evaporating Lake Titicaca. In 2010, Bolivia ranked 137th out of 163 countries in annual environmental performance index by Yale and Columbia universities. Iceland, Switzerland and Costa Rica lead the ranks while the U.S. is 61st, between Paraguay and Brazil.

Evo Morales Ayma, Bolivia's first indigenous president, called on world leaders at United Nations' climate talks to drastically reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to curb global warming. This spring, Mr. Morales, who is a socialist and former leader of the coca-growers union, got congressional approval for a Bill of Rights for Mother Earth, that grants nature the same rights and liberties as human beings and treats resources as blessings.
It says Mother Earth has the right to exist, continue life cycles and be free from human alteration, the right to pure water and clean air, the right to equilibrium, the right not to be polluted or have cellular structures modified and the right not to be affected by development that could impact the balance of ecosystems.

The government, in turn, must create policies that protect nature and communities, promote clean and sustainable resources and prevent climate change. It must defend Mother Earth from exploitation and commodification of its resources that would affect climate change. It must promote peace and encourage the elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction. The ministry of Mother Nature will oversee enforcement…

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