Bolivia’s “Law of Mother Earth”
“We believe that we cannot survive on this planet if we fail to see that human life cannot exist outside of nature.”
The Bolivian law that defends Mother Earth as a living system grants her a presence in a legal framework. It is an important ideology that should be considered globally.
In highly urbanized areas, the built environment does a remarkable job of masking the resources that allow all forms of life to continue their existence on this planet.
As human populations grow, the majority of human activity will take place in urban areas. Overcrowding brings traffic and exhaust, water quality and quantity issues, food shortages, air pollution, and a variety of natural disasters that destroy infrastructure and disrupt lives. These issues can bring unrest, displacement, homelessness, war and death.
Bolivia’s law reestablishes deeply indigenous concepts concerning Earth within a political and legal framework. It is a model for prioritizing the health of our planet and it should be configured into every nation’s environmental policies and sustainability goals.
The Law of Mother Earth outlines Seven Rights this planet is entitled to:
- Life. Maintenance of life systems’ integrity and the natural processes which sustain them, as well as the conditions for their renewal.
- Diversity of Life. Preservation of the variety of beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered or artificially modified in their structure in any way that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential.
- Water. Preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain and renew life systems and protection against contamination.
- Clean air. Preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain and renew life systems and protection against contamination.
- Equilibrium. Maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes.
- Restoration. Effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities
- Live free of contamination. Preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities.
The Law of Mother Earth will be exacted into policy via five strategies:
- Incorporation a prevention and managed response to natural disasters.
- Agricultural risk management to prevent diminished crop yields and food insecurity.
- Adopt risk management for disasters and climate change. Develop informational networks to issue early warnings during natural crisis. Assist the agricultural industry and indigenous communities to plan according to climate conditions.
- Strengthen territorial management of organizations, public lands and any other local governmental bodies through the incorporation of risk management and adaption to climate change.
- Articulation between public and private scientific research sectors to share knowledge and co-ordinate research regarding vulnerabilities related to climate change.
Bolivia is dependent on the glaciers in the Andes mountains as a reliable water source. Their disappearance has severe and dangerous consequences forcing people to face the challenges of how and where to access clean water. The New York Times, “a World Bank report concluded last year that climate change would eliminate many glaciers in the Andes within 20 years, threatening the existence of nearly 100 million people.”
In an article from the Huffington Post, Peter Neill writes, “Change must begin somewhere, sometime; perhaps Bolivia is inventing the social model and role of governance that will demonstrate how we can transcend the global divisions and conflicts, beyond the destruction and despair that we feel, toward a harmonious, effective, efficient, and equitable society connected by the true value of nature as sustainer. If so, should we not pay attention?”
Until next time,