Mother Nature gets legal rights!

Oct 2010: On location in Ecuador, South America, on behalf of the Divination Foundation. Soon after I arrived in Quito from New York, I met with Natalia Greene, the charismatic political programs director for Pachamama Rain Forest Alliance, one of my favorite environmental organizations, and I taped an interview of her for my Pathways program (which will be podcast on soon).

The Pachamama Alliance, with HQ near San Francisco, has had a long-standing, almost mystical relationship with the Achuar Indians of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest region (“pachamama” means “mother nature”). Having been invited in by the Achuar, they now have official offices in Ecuador that work with the indigenous tribes and lobby the government.

Ms Greene is a very pleasant 28 year-old Ecuadorian, earned a degree in Political Science in the USA, plus a Masters in Ecuador. In addition to having a keen intellect, she is a very warm person. (I particularly like the Ecuadorian custom of kissing on the cheek at every meeting, including the first!) Luckily for me, Natalia’s English is excellent, and I learned a lot about the unique situation and promise of Ecuador.

As a tireless environmental lobbyist in a small country, Natalia had a hand (and lots of long days) in the lobbying for a special clause in Ecuador’s new constitution — a “Rights of Nature” clause — that grants Nature legal rights against lethal harm. It’s nothing short of amazing that such a clause could make it into the constitution of any nation on earth, and it speaks volumes about the rising consciousness of Ecuador as a country and community.

Although the clause has yet to be tested, what it theoretically means is that a citizen can sue on behalf of Nature to prevent or redress harm done to Nature, our common heritage and absolutely vital support system. Wow … congratulations, Ecuador … and muchas gracias!