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Rights of Mother Earth 'In action for Nature'

Doris Ragettli (57) collected more than 400,000 signatures for her cause and spoke for it at the UN.

By Fabian Gubser

In Switzerland, a group of five left-wing and bourgeois parliamentarians has submitted an initiative to the Confederation: among other things, it wants the Constitution to give nature "at least partial status of a legal entity". Internationally, there are already some examples where natural rights are recognised: Ecuador, for example, was the first country to include the rights of nature in its constitution in 2008. And in New Zealand, Colombia or India, for example, rivers were granted their own rights. This in order to better protect the environment. At the head of a worldwide movement that promotes precisely such initiatives is a woman from Oberwil: Doris Ragettli.

Doris Ragettli, co-founder of the organization Rights of Mother Earth

Photo: Stefan Kaiser (Oberwil, 30 March 2021)

An extension of the Convention on Human Rights

"The Convention on Human Rights has influenced an extremely large number of laws – probably like almost no other document," explains Ragettli. But now we are at a different point. "We have lost 60 percent of our biodiversity in the last 40 years." Nature is currently being treated in the statute books as a thing and as a resource, and not as the living, networked being that it actually is. In order to protect them and also to support the Convention on Human Rights, an extension of the rights to nature, which is the basis of life for all beings, is necessary.

The UN is to be inspired by a "General Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth". A document prepared at an international conference in Bolivia in 2010. Some 30,000 people from 100 countries took part, including many indigenous peoples. The latter also inspired the term "Mother Earth", which at first glance seemed somewhat esoteric.

But what has Doris Ragettli achieved so far? To pay attention to the cause, she and her team collect signatures. The target is one million. More than 400,000 have been together since 2010.

In 2018, Ragettli was able to present her concerns to mPs at the UN Assembly in New York. Before that, she handed over signatures to Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the UN. In addition, their movement sits internationally in various bodies that discuss more rights for nature.

On the other hand, Doris Ragettli has little to do with her professional career – she works as a flight attendant for Swiss. Is this not at odds with their environmental commitment? "It's a divisive situation, but I'm doing my best in private to live, eat and travel with as small an ecological footprint as possible." She became A Flight Attendant in 1989 when she lived in New York so she could visit her parents in Switzerland. "Today we know a lot more about the environment than we did then," she adds.

In Switzerland, the Oberwilerin has also recently been in contact with the five politicians who launched the parliamentary initiative mentioned at the beginning. If it is adopted, perhaps soon the Zugerberg, the Wildspitz and the Lorze will also be a legal entity.

Article in Zuger Zeitung 7 April 2021

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