When we were in Ecuador, much of the local political discussion was around their efforts to write a new constitution for the country. I’d heard that there were some significantly progressive elements to the work, but this is the first I’ve seen some of the articles being considered: as is perhaps unsurprising for a nation well-endowed with natural resources and reliant on maintaining those resources to support the economy, they’ve done something terrific: they’ve not only written rights for nature (personified as “Pachamama”), but they’ve acknowledged the importance of evolution.
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
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
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
It’s awfully fuzzy on exactly how they’re going to protect the rights of Nature (will she have lawyers working on her behalf?), but the sentiment is excellent.