Years ago humans had no rights. In the times when slavery was legal, abuses to slaves were deemed an issue of property law, not an issue of human rights.
From this relationship of owner to slave, you cannot have anything other than an exploitative relationship.
In this interview, Carl Chenery explains that this kind of thinking of human separation from, and domination over nature itself, is embedded into the very structure of our western legal system. Through our legal systems we attribute all the rights to humans as subjects, and everything else (except companies) as being objects or property to be owned.
Gaia, our living breathing planet that is home to all of us, does not have rights. And without rights, like an unfortunate slave, she, our only home, is being used and slowly destroyed.
On September 28, 2008, the people of Ecuador voted by an overwhelming majority (64%) to approve a new constitution which included Pachamama, nature, in the constitution, which was then ratified on Oct 20th 2008.
Carl Chenery went to Ecuador in 2012 and met with some of those who were central to the incorporation of the rights of nature into the constitution. He and others in the group from the organisation, Awakening the Dreamer, were keen to see if the ideas could be incorporated into a New Zealand constitution.
This progressive and conscious move by Ecuador is something that New Zealand would do well to look at.
Below are the Rights for Nature as written in the Ecuador constitution.
Article. 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 (courts and government agencies). The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.
Article. 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.
Article. 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.
Article. 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.
Article. 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 cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State.'
As well as talking about the constitution, Lisa puts some hard-hitting questions to Carl around the commodification of nature, and the very real downsides of replacing conservation with market based environmental management. Does the role of the emerging multi-billion dollar per year ecosystem market assist or inhibit conserving biodiversity and natural geographical features?
Carl works as a sustainability strategist, and has contributed to a range of local and national initiatives including 350 Aotearoa, Intersect, Awakening the Dreamer Aotearoa, and ReGeneration Networks.
Carl was North & South Magazine Young Achiever for 2011, and finalist in Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year in 2011.
Carl loves being in the outdoors and spending time with his family including his 9 month old daughter Abigail.
Carl Chenery twitter: @carlchenery
Here are some excellent links to some web sites on topics that are mentioned in the interview.
Pachamama Alliance / Awakening the Dreamer Symposium
‘New Thinking on Sustainability Conference 14-16 February 2014 in Wellington, including speakers on Rights of Nature:
NZ Constitutional Advisory Panel Report on the 2012-13 ‘Constitutional Conversation (including feedback on Environment rights p51 and recommendations p48)
Recent Waitangi Tribunal settlement developments:
Whanganui River Te Awa Tupua “Agreement entitles Whanganui River to legal identity”
Te Urewera-T_hoe Bill: "Te Urewera declared to be legal entity"
Blogpost: Latest on the First International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature:
Rights of Nature Article - Quakers Newsletter November 2012
This interview was sponsored by The Awareness Party
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Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'