In a 2018 climate rights case brought by young people in Colombia, the Colombian Supreme Court recognized the rights of communities, future generations, and nature to a healthy climate. Finding that deforestation causes imminent and serious damage to all Colombians of present and future generations, the Court sought to protect this vital ecosystem by recognizing the Colombian Amazon as an “entity subject of rights,” creating a duty on the State to protect, conserve, maintain, and restore the forest. The Court ordered deforestation reduced to zero, and ensured implementation by directing the government to create an “intergenerational pact for the life of the Colombian Amazon,” with the participation of and pressure from the young plaintiffs, affected local communities, and scientists.
Putting in place lasting, just solutions to the climate challenges described in the Global Resources Outlook Report will require this type of “rights revolution for nature,” as described in a just-released Science magazine analysis. As noted in Science, the global environmental crisis is accelerating, and new legal tools are needed to stop and reverse that trend. More communities and nations around the world are recognizing nature’s rights as an essential component of a successful climate strategy.
It is not enough to impose stewardship obligations on governing bodies and other responsible parties. Clear accountability mechanisms are needed as well to face the escalating challenges before us. Rights-based stewardship – both human rights and the rights of nature – will help create accountability and will support just solutions that benefit communities at the local to global levels.
One championing organization is the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (the “Alliance”), a network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce “Rights of Nature” and to making the idea of Rights of Nature an idea whose time has come.
The primary premise of the Alliance is that in order to insure an environmentally sustainable future, humans must reorient themselves from an exploitative and ultimately self-destructive relationship with nature, to one that honors the deep interrelation of all life and contributes to the health and integrity of the natural environment. An essential step in achieving this is to create a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats nature as a fundamental, rights bearing entity and not as mere property to be exploited at will. Breaking out of the human-centered limitations of our current legal systems by recognizing, respecting and enforcing Rights of Nature is one of the most transformative and highly leveraged actions that humanity can take to create a sustainable future for all.
As members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, our decisions and actions will be guided by the following principles for our present and our future:
- As members of an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings, we each have a responsibility to contribute to the health and integrity of the whole Earth community, including future generations.
- In order to achieve our vision of societies that flourish in harmony with other beings, that are socially just and spiritually fulfilling, we must recognise, respect and defend the rights of all beings.
- We will work in solidarity with one another to promote the recognition by all people that all beings are subjects with rights, to ensure that humans respect, uphold and guarantee those rights in law and elsewhere, and reject the commodification of Nature.
- We will integrate practices into our work that strengthen our connection to, and respect for, the Earth community and that evoke gratitude and humility regarding our place within the universe.
- We recognize the special contribution of Indigenous Peoples who have maintained cultures that respect Mother Earth and acknowledge their wisdom and leadership within the Alliance.
(Adopted at the Hacienda Manteles, Patate, Ecuador, on 5 September 2010)
We, the people and organisations meeting at the Hacienda Manteles at the foot of Mama Tungurahua from 2 to 5 September 2010 (“the Founding Members”);
Recognizing that we are all part of an indivisible, living Earth community of interrelated and interdependent beings;
Conscious of being complemented by the presence of the lizard, the hummingbird, water, fire, earth, moon, sky and other beings to create an integral Earth Community;
Motivated by our love of Earth and of all beings and by a vision of creating societies that live in harmony with Nature, are socially just and spiritually fulfilling;
Recognizing that ancient native communities have always defended Mother Earth’s rights because those rights are innate to their cosmovision; and
Believing that the universal recognition and implementation of the rights of Nature is essential to achieve this vision and to avert catastrophic harm to humanity and life as we know it;
Hereby adopt these Statutes.
Establishment of Alliance
- We hereby establish the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (“the Alliance”) to recognize the rights of nature and to promote the universal adoption and effective implementation of rights for Nature.
- The Alliance may apply for official recognition in any country.
- Any person or organization (other than a sovereign State) may become a member of the Alliance if that person or organization:
- endorses the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth proclaimed on 22 April 2010 at Cochabamba, Bolivia; and
- subscribes to these Statutes.
- The Founding Members of the Alliance and signatories to these Statutes are listed in Part A of Appendix 1.
- Each member of the Alliance must promote the recognition and effective implementation of the rights of Nature (also referred to as “Mother Earth’’ or the “Earth Community”) and must act in conformity with the Fundamental Principles of the Alliance.
- The Alliance has the right to refuse any person or organization membership or to terminate the membership of any member in accordance with these Statutes. The Alliance shall also have the power to create additional membership qualifications.
- The Fundamental Principles of the Alliance are set out in Appendix 2.
- The functioning of the Alliance shall be guided by the following operational principles:
- Decisions by the Alliance shall be taken by consensus unless otherwise agreed in advance and in writing.
- No member may vote on a matter in which they have a personal interest.
- If the Alliance cannot reach consensus on whether or not to participate in a meeting or activity or to support a statement or position, that does not preclude any members from doing so in their own name.
- A member is not entitled to represent the Alliance or to speak on its behalf unless the General Assembly, the Founding Council or the Executive Committee has given that member a mandate to do so.
- Each member of the Alliance must collaborate in good faith with other members, and, as far as reasonably possible, act in a manner that:
- promotes the cohesion and effective functioning of the Alliance; and
- respects the views of other members.
- Any entity that forms part of the Alliance may adopt rules of procedure that do not conflict with these Statutes or with decisions of the Founding Council or General Assembly.
- The Alliance must respect the right of each member to decide which activities of the Alliance to participate in and which statements or positions proposed by other members to support.
Founding Organisations and Founding Council
- The Founding Organisations are the organisations listed in Part B of Appendix 1.
- The Founding Council may invite other organisations to become members of the Founding Council and an organization that accepts such an invitation shall become a member of the Founding Council.
- The Founding Council must:
- ensure that the Alliance remains true to its vision and to the Fundamental Principles;
- promote harmony, solidarity and unity within the Alliance; and
- meet at least once every year.
- A quorum for a meeting of the Founding Council shall be 75% of the members present in person or by proxy and a member who is not physically in the presence of other members of the Founding Council shall be regarded as being present if he or she is able to hear and speak to the other members of the Founding Council through technological resources.
- Decisions of the Founding Council must be made by consensus.
- The Founding Council may:
- amend these Statutes;
- amend any strategy or policy of the Alliance; and
- overrule a decision of the Executive Committee.
- The Alliance shall be co-ordinated by an Executive Committee of no more than eight people, which must include at least one person from each world region in which organisations that are members of the Alliance exist and are active.
- The regions that are to be represented on the initial Executive Committee are: South America, North America, Oceania, and Africa, and the Founding Members agree to invite organisations from Europe and Asia who were unable to participate in the Conference at Hacienda Manteles to become Founding Organisations.
- The Founding Council has elected the persons listed in Part C of Appendix 1 as the initial members of the Executive Committee.
- The Founding Council shall elect members of the Executive Committee for a two year term of office, but in order to ensure that the terms of office of all the members do not expire at the same time, the initial members of the Executive Committee from Africa and Australia shall be elected for a period of one year (subsequent terms of office shall be for two years).
- Members of the Executive Committee may be re-elected but may not be members for more than six years in any ten year period.
- The Founding Council shall elect individual members of the Alliance to replace any member of the Executive Committee who resigns, is no longer able to function as an effective member of the Executive Committee, whose term of office expires, or whom the Founding Council decides by a simple majority has acted in a manner that brings the Alliance into disrepute or is contrary to the Fundamental Principles.
- A quorum for a meeting of the Executive Committee shall be 75% of the members present in person or by proxy and a member who is not physically in the presence of other members of the Executive Committee shall be regarded as being present if he or she is able to hear and speak to the other members of the Executive Committee through technological resources.
- The Executive Committee must:
- co-ordinate the Alliance;
- meet at least once every four months;
- make decisions by consensus;
- prepare and approve a strategic plan and budget for the Alliance at least once every two years;
- convene a General Assembly to which all the individual and organizational members of the Alliance are invited and may participate at least once every two years;
- co-ordinate and monitor the activities of the Working Groups; and
- invite other members to participate in enlarged Executive Committee meetings where necessary or desirable to address specific issues.
- Each individual member of the Alliance and each organization member of the Alliance shall have one vote in making any decision at a General Assembly.
- Any decision by the Executive Committee or the Founding Council may be changed by a resolution adopted by at least 75% of the members present at a General Assembly.
- Any two or more organization members may, with the approval of the Executive Committee, establish a Working Group to deal with a specific function or theme on behalf of the Alliance.
- A Working Group must report regularly on its activities to the Executive Committee, and if requested, to the Founding Council or the General Assembly.
- It is recorded that the following initial working groups have been approved to be established:
- The Legislative Assistance Working Group
- The International Advocacy Working Group
- The Communications and Learning Working Group
- The Ancestral Knowledge Working Group
- The Executive Committee may invite any person to become a member of the Advisory Council of the Alliance if the Executive Committee believes that that person will contribute to the effectiveness of the Alliance, for example by virtue of their skills, reputation or position.
- A person who accepts appointment as a member of the Advisory Council becomes a member of the Alliance and must advise the Founding Council, Executive Committee and General Assembly and promote the Alliance, its vision and Fundamental Principles.
Regional Co-ordination Committees
- Member Organisations within a region may establish a Regional Co-ordination Committee to co-ordinate their activities within the region and may adopt statutes for that Regional Coordination Committee provided that they do not conflict with the Statutes of the Alliance or any policy adopted by the Executive Committee, the Founding Council or the General Assembly.
Adoption of the Statutes
The Executive Committee shall within three years of the signature of this Declaration, present a draft Constitution to the General Assembly for adoption.
Signed in both the Spanish and English languages at Hacienda Manteles, Patate, Ecuadorthis 5thday of September 2010
PART A: FOUNDING MEMBERS
PART B: FOUNDING ORGANISATIONS
PART C: INITIAL MEMBERS OF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE