Ecuador Constitution Adopted September 2008
Nature, or Pachamama – an indigenous word for all life, has been legally acknowledged as having rights by the Ecuadorian people in their new constitution. Ecuador is the first country to incorporate rights of nature in their constitution.
Rather than treating nature as property under the law, these laws acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. And we – the people – have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendent.
Ecuador’s new constitution includes a Chapter addressing Rights for Nature.
Art. 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.
Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognitions of rights for nature before the public organisms. The application and interpretation of these rights will follow the related principles established in the Constitution.
The State will motivate natural and juridical persons as well as collectives to protect nature; it will promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.
Art. 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration. This integral restoration is independent of the obligation on natural and juridical persons or the State to indemnify the people and the collectives that depend on the natural systems.
In the cases of severe or permanent environmental impact, including the ones caused by the exploitation on non renewable natural resources, the State will establish the most efficient mechanisms for the restoration, and will adopt the adequate measures to eliminate or mitigate the harmful environmental consequences.
Art. 3. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.
The introduction of organisms and organic and inorganic material that can alter in a definitive way the national genetic patrimony is prohibited.
Art. 4. The persons, people, communities and nationalities will have the right to benefit from the environment and form natural wealth that will allow well-being.
The environmental services are cannot be appropriated; its production, provision, use and exploitation, will be regulated by the State.
“Public organisms” in Article 1 means the courts and government agencies, i.e., the people of Ecuador would be able to take action to enforce nature rights if the government did not do so.
More about Ecuador
Ecuador is a small but richly bio-diverse country in South America. The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. The northern Andes run through the middle of the country separating its beautiful Pacific coastal region from its Upper Amazon rainforest. It is named Ecuador because the equator runs through the country. Quito, the capitol of Ecuador, is on the equator. Find Ecuador on a map of South America in the north west between Colombia and Peru.
Read our original blog post about Ecuador adds Rights for Nature.
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund serves as a legal advisor to organizations and governments including Ecuador. Visit Press Release: Ecuador Approves New Constitution: Voters Approve Rights of Nature further information.
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