By April 25, 2018 Read More →

Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature during the commemoration of International Mother Earth Day – General Assembly, 72nd session

Earth Jurisprudence in the Implementation of Sustainable Production and Consumption Patterns in Harmony

Monday, April 23, ECOSOC Chambers, UNHQ, NY

H.E. Mr. , President of the General Assembly

H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajack, President of the General Assembly


The session was opened by the President of the GA Mr. Miroslav Lajack, followed by statements from ambassadors of Ecuador, India, Bolivia, members of the European Parliament and then a couple of NGOs one of which was Ms. Doris Ragettli, representing the Rights of Mother Earth Global Campaign. She spoke of how support has been growing for the rights of nature, and that it requires a shift in thinking to come into harmony with nature rather than think of nature as a commodity to use. They are asking the UN to adopt an official declaration of the Rights of Nature, which will compliment the Declaration of Human Rights. There is a campaign, an on line petition to collect 1,000,000 signatures from people around the world: All our rights depend on our relationship with Mother Earth and all living beings.

A judge from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mr. Roberto Caldas spoke via video saying that, though all are equal in rights in law, social circumstances effect the most vulnerable. Things are getting worse environmentally and so there needs to be a shift in legal status to protect venerable environments. Environmental law is vital part of social law. Our planet is worth protecting; Mother Earth is not only useful to human beings but has its own importance; other living beings that depend on it deserve protection. We have been looking at human centered development but need to consider a wider view, which includes the whole ecosystem Mother Earth.

Mr. Gorge Calderon, an Environmental Advisor to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights also said there needs to be an earth-centered approach to Jurisprudence (philosophy of law). Environmental rights are complementarity to indigenous rights; indigenous communities tend to take care of the environment, because of their awareness of the importance to live in harmony with nature. There needs to be an evolvement of consciousness. Evolution happens by choice and not chance. There needs to be a declaration of principles for the conscious evolution of Mother Earth.   All living beings have consciousness, which contribute to this change.

Ms. Kathryn Gwiazdon, Executive Director, Center for Environmental Ethics and Law, spoke of there being a practical opportunity to live by our principles. Mechanisms of thought can be used to change the behavior of our society; change our values that organize our societies. We are the decisions we make. Societies ethics are the foundational to life. It is up to us to keep Earth alive and well. We have to address richness as well as poverty. It is wealthy who cause the most harm to nature.  Why are we not changing? Because we speak the language of fear, though much to be fearful about, we need to speak in the language of courage and care. The greatest obstacle to change is power of money and the power of corruption. Negotiations need to change. The wellbeing of earth needs to be at the negotiating table. Since the State is charged to protect its citizens and the citizens need Mother Earth to live, the Nation States need to protect Mother Earth with courage and care, by including earth care in their policies. People and animals have sacred spaces. What we choose and support are directly influenced by our ethics and values.

The afternoon session was moderated by Craig Kauffman, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Oregon. The highly experienced panel consisted of

  • Ms. Marsha Moutrie, former City Attorney of Santa Monica, California, USA
  • Mr. Method Gundidza, Programme Coordinator with EarthLore Foundation,  Zimbabwe
  • Ms. Karen Brown, Creative Director, Center for Ecoliteracy, USA
  • Ms. Leah Temper, Director of the Global Atlas of Environmental Justice and ACKnowl-EJ, Associate Professor at McGill University, Canada
  • Mr. Jorge Iván Palacio, Former Judge of the Constitutional Court of Colombia
  • Ms. Kirsti Luke, Chief Executive of Tūhoe Te Uru Taumatua, New Zealand

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They reminded the audience that we are dependent on Earth and its Eco-system for our existence, and it’s in our interest to ensure the well-being of all life on earth. Giving back to Nature as much as we have taken is important. This is part of our responsibility. To achieve the 2030 Development Agenda, there is a vital need for a transformation of the legal and economic systems where the focus is one from an “over consumption to one of reproducing the systems of life.” We need to have new earth-centered government and economic systems that recognize the connectedness and interdependence of all life. Mention was again made to the petition for the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, stating that the approach of the declaration is totally Earth-centered.

It was noted that if Mother Earth were a person, she would be fighting for her rights at this time. It is also note-worthy that in the USA, there’s a law that as human beings, we can fight for her rights in court.

Achieving the rights for Mother Earth require governmental support, cooperation, and action on a global level.

In conclusion, it would be good to observe that Beauty is one of Nature’s strongest languages. If we could just step aside from our busy schedules, at intervals, and ‘see and feel’ what’s around us, it would go a long way in bringing the shift in our vision and attitude towards our interaction with Mother Earth. Noticing and appreciating Nature’s Beauty will also allow us the opportunity to align with our own inner nature and beauty.

Report prepared by BK Julia Grindon Welsh and BK Sabita Geer.

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