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Ecuador Passes New Constitution: Voters Approve Rights of Nature

The voters of Ecuador overwhelmingly approved a new Constitution that grants more power to its leftist president, Rafael Correa. Of the 444 articles, including a clause allowing same-sex civil unions, one of the most notable clauses affirms the inalienable rights of nature, explicitly stating that nature “has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.”

According to the New York Times’ Dot Earth blog, “[t]he language in these provisions was written by Ecuador’s Constitutional Assembly with input from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a Pennsylvania-based group providing legal assistance to governments and community groups trying to mesh human affairs and the environment.”

Here’s the Times’ Andrew C. Revkin:

The group says it has helped more than a dozen communities in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia draft and pass laws “that change the status of ecosystems from being regarded as property under the law to being recognized as rights-bearing entities.”

My guess is that Edward O. Wilson would love to see this language adopted everywhere.

Simon Romero, my colleague covering the news, told me in e-mail Sunday night that this particular provision “has been derided within Ecuador” given the history of pollution from state-run and private oil companies in the Amazon and the government’s need to keep oil flowing to sustain the economy.

So . . . revolutionary? A step in the right direction? Or just lip service? Time will tell.


Enter to Win Your Copy of Nuclear Roulette

Seventy years ago, the city of Hiroshima was incinerated by an atomic bomb. Today, tens of thousands gather in Japan to mark the anniversary with silent ceremonies and somber reflections. In the United States, visitors to the National Air and Space Museum hear a narrative recounting that day as they view the Enola Gay, the […] Read More..

Bern Baby Bern!

Feel the Bern, now read the Bern. Chelsea Green is bringing out the first major book chronicling the issues being raised by US Senator Bernie Sanders in his campaign for president of the United States. The Essential Bernie Sanders and His Vision for America is the only book that outlines, in Sanders’ own words and […] Read More..

Economic Development is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It

Economic development today is completely broken. That’s the argument of author Michael Shuman in his new book, The Local Economy Solution. The singular focus on attracting global corporations is not just ineffective but counterproductive, Shuman argues, especially given the huge opportunity costs. Indeed, it’s not far-fetched to suggest that the best way most communities can […] Read More..

5 Shareable Strategies for Creating Climate Action

Frustrated about climate change? You’re not alone. Most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of depressed about our climate situation to flat-out denying that it exists. In fact, the more information about global warming that piles up, the less we seem to do to combat it. What is the reason for this […] Read More..

A Mini-Festo for Earth Day – Rebuild the Foodshed

For the past month, author Philip Ackerman-Leist has been on a Twitter MiniFesto campaign – each day sending out a new tweet designed to spark conversation and pass along some lessons he learned whilst working on his last book, Rebuilding the Foodshed. You might also know Philip as the author of his memoir Up Tunket […] Read More..