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Rights of Nature

Rights of Nature Forum (August 11, 2016)
Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature

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Moderator: Osprey Orielle Lake (Women's Earth and Climate Action Network). Works on frontline with community and women most effected by climate change. Need to live in harmony with planet. Lift up Indigenous leadership & world views. Big challenge is property rights, and need to change that. Wrong to see nature as property. Take nature out of the marketplace. Our earth is not for sale. Relationship between legal and human struggle. Do we have the right to sell and destroy something that belongs to everyone? Concept of Sumak Kawsay--we need to question our idea of progress, look at development in a different way. What is the relationship between rights and responsibilities.

Manari, Zapara.
Sumak Kawsay, not an idea created by Kichwa from Andes, but it comes from a conflict between mountain spirits in search for equilibrium. Means search for spirits to live in peace. Now, CONAIE has made a political project. Sumak Kawsay is process of replacing democracy in which we are killing mother nature. Respect for rights of everyone living in country, to end divisions between rich & poor. Need to change concept of development to respect land, spirits, and ourselves.

Rights of nature: Indigenous communities have defended them for centuries. Through dreams commune with all spirits. This connections leads to recognition that all beings such as trees have life. 2008 constitution with rights of nature. Many rights in constitution. Ask nature what they think of this right, and nature says that this is good--but it's not for nature, but for humans. With this, we are conscious of everything we do in planet. Everything has life and maintains equilibrium. But states and corporations don't respect this. They want to extract petroleum from our land with high levels of technology. But that's not the problem, but rather that the extraction will destroy our relationship with nature.

Leave message: we have to be conscious of everything that we do to maintain our life on this planet or human life will disappear like the dinosaurs. Now is time to change if we want to continue.

Natalia Greene (Ecuador)
First country to recognize rights of nature. Living in eco-apartheid. We are nature, why don't people to understand that? We need to change that. Everything is disconnected, and what holds us together is the earth. Govt is recognizing rights, so need new govt that will do this. Conduct tribunal to recognize rights of nature: select people to represent us (like Osprey & Tom), and to hear our charges on fraking, climate change, GMOs, mining, etc. Need to understand that we are part of nature.

Maude Barlow (Canada)
20 yrs fighting for rights to water in UN, and now working for rights to nature. Need new water ethic. Related to food production. We think of water exportation in pipelines, but happens more in food. Don't ask how nature is impacted in trade agreements. Do we care about impact? We need to talk about importance of water. We've taken water for granted. We need to get involved in consultations.

Tom GoldtoothTom Goldtooth (IEN)
Sweet grass used in ceremony. We burn it to remind us of our relationship to women and mother earth and father sky. Spirit is alive.
Example of tar sands and effects of industrialization. Manipulation of life. Stop black snake that flows at 160F. Taking on system like in The Matrix, people walking like zombies letting this happen.
Dené struggle: grandmothers go to Geneva to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, going to speak for mother nature. But people don't listen.
From property rights to earth jurisprudence. Stewardship is still a concept of dominion and ownership over the earth. How to get beyond concepts of dominion and property. It has to be a grassroots movement. Don't just put burden on our shoulders. They want to kill us: process of criminalization, they want to kill us (Berta Cacerés). We need you to walk on the front line to demand change, to change concepts of property rights.
Contradictions of environmental laws.
We need to look and issues coming out, eg: using market system to solve climate change. Before treating anything like a commodity, we have to determine whose property right it is. Question technologies. How can we quantify sacred?
Rights of nature, and perpetual care and 7th generation, and stop war on mother earth.
Involved Tribunal as an organizing tool. Charging Chevron with climate crimes, with REDD. Offset plane travel, but it doesn't cut pollution at source.

Margaret Stewart (attorney for Center for Earth Jurisprudence, Florida).
How do we get to place to understand rights of nature? How do we get to point of sterilizing land? Nothing stops that from happening.
Solution? more laws, regulations? more regulated harm. What else? Earth Jurisprudence. recognize inherent value and rights of nature. Puts duty on us to act for wellbeing of earth. Not just destructive to nature but to us ourselves? we need to define new language, to codify new rights. Recognize people who cannot protect themselves. Trying to get language from Ecuadorian constitution recognized everywhere.
Doesn't solve problems, but gets us a seat at the table.

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