The Council of Canadians and the Blue Planet Project support the assertion that nature has rights. In short that means we believe that natural ecosystems including trees, oceans, animals and mountains have the right to exist, maintain and regenerate their vital cycles.
Part of this support is our participation in the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. The Global Alliance is an international grouping of individuals and organizations committed to building support for and the realization of the rights of nature. Our national chairperson Maude Barlow is the North American representative on the Global Alliance's executive committee. Others on that committee include Liz Rivers (Europe), Vandana Shiva (India) and Cormac Cullinan (South Africa).
Barlow says, "The case for acknowledging the rights of nature cannot be overstated. Every now and then in history, the human race takes a collective step forward in its evolution. Such a time is upon us now as we begin to understand the urgent need to protect the Earth and its ecosystems from which all life comes. A Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would be a crucial link in this process and will one day stand as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as one of the guiding covenants of our time."
She has also noted, "Our argument is that policies of unlimited growth, unregulated trade and government deregulation – taking away the rights of government to protect the environment – is putting the environment at risk. We need to ask ourselves: what kind of society could we build if we introduced laws that actually give the Earth and other species the right to exist and not be destroyed by us? The rights of nature are about recognizing the limits to the Earth’s carrying capacity and dealing with it before it’s too late."
Along with calling for a Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth, the work of the Global Alliance includes convening an Ethics Tribunal that adjudicates environmental cases based on earth jurisprudence and working to stop the Mirador gold and copper open-pit mine which is located at the headwaters of the Amazon River in Ecuador.
In April 2011, the Council of Canadians helped produce the book The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth as a way to inform and inspire others about the need to create and ratify a binding instrument to protect the rights of the Earth. In March 2013, the Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project along with other organizations submitted an amicus letter to a court in Ecuador stating that the Mirador mine directly violates that country's constitutional recognition of the rights of nature.
For more on the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, please click here.