First World Forum for Rights of Mother Earth Opens in Mexico City
A Ceremony of Thanksgiving was part of the opening of the World Forum for the Rights of Mother Earth (Pachamama) Photo: Guillermo Sologuren
La Jornada, 2nd June, 2016Angélica Enciso L.
The World Forum for the Rights of Mother Earth* opened yesterday [June 1, 2016, in Mexico City] with a ceremony of thanksgiving to the Pachamama. In his opening remarks, Luis Raúl González Pérez, president of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and national [human rights] ombudsman, said that "Poverty, social exclusion and prevailing levels of inequality are realities that transgress all logic of democratic rule of law and violate the dignity of those who suffer."
With international activists Vandana Shiva from India and Leonardo Boff, Brazilian theologian, in attendance, the ombudsman pointed out that in the course of almost 26 years, the CNDH has issued 15 environmental recommendations. The environmental issue, moreover, has also been addressed in general recommendations; the most recent regarding Natural Protected Areas.
Earth Is a Subject of Rights: Leonardo Boff
Speaking before hundreds of people, Leonardo Boff gave a lecture in which he said that the Earth, which gives what is necessary for life, "is threatened, super-exploited and now no longer tolerates it."
The Earth also has rights, he added, and it must be respected; "each being has value and must be respected because it has a place in the universe."
Boff emphasized that anthropocentrism must be overcome: "in order to realize that we are part of an occasion of life. We know that all living beings have the same genetic code. We all have the blocks for constructing the building of life. We have the same base and biological foundation."
The Earth, he said, has dignity and is a subject of rights. Unscrupulous exploitation of the Earth cannot continue without giving the Earth time to rest. We have extracted from the Earth many goods and services. Now the Earth is sick, with "fever, the heat is the visible sign."
Protecting the Earth Protects Human Species: Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva also participated in the opening ceremony, observing that the present moment is an era when we are able to know [in advance] that the Earth’s duress will result in the inability to support the human species. Therefore, she said, protecting the Earth protects human beings. She concluded, "It would be wonderful, if next year on the Day of Mother Earth, every inch of this planet might take part."
Disrespecting the Earth Is to Disrespect Ourselves: González Pérez
In turn, González Pérez considered that if we do not respect the Earth, we are not respecting ourselves as human beings. He added that it is our decision "to undertake a change to begin acting for life or to continue on the path of ignorance, destruction and damage to the environment. This change implies creating a new paradigm that rethinks many of our values and causes us to revise our habits and lifestyles."
González Pérez emphasized that in Mexico human activity affects biodiversity and sidesteps the opportunity to make sustainable use of natural resources. Given the weakness of our rule of law, such practices as illegal logging or the intentional destruction of forests [i.e., via 'wild' fires set intentionally] to justify land use changes—these have become widespread in some regions, causing severe damage to the natural environment.
Among the dozens of organizations participating in the forum are Seeds of Life [Semillas de Vida], Serepaz, Without Corn There Is No Country [Sin maíz no hay país] and Pachamama Alliance.
VME Note: The Forum’s Vision:
"It is time to globalize legislation for the Rights of Mother Earth and establish a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature, to recognize her as a living being—the biggest of all—to protect her, restore her, and link her to humanity by way of respect and preservation of all her species. Only this action can stop the irrational exploitation and the utilitarian view that today drives the relationship between mankind and Nature. Therefore, this declaration is the first step to ensure the future of the innumerable forms of existence, including the human species, on our planet."
Forum activities will culminate in celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, 2016.
Leonardo Boff (Brazil) Philosopher, theologian and member of the international initiative of the Earth Charter. He has received awards in Brazil and abroad. In 2001, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award (the Alternative Nobel Prize) in Stockholm, Sweden. His work has had much influence on the liberation theology movements since the seventies and, currently, in movements that have adopted eco-theology as an active expression for the defence of the rights of Mother Earth. He was consulted by Pope Francisco to draft a proposal for integral ecology.
Vandana Shiva (India) Physicist, philosopher, environmental activist, ecofeminist and writer. She received the Alternative Nobel Prize in 1993 and is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization. In 1973, she participated in the Chipko movement, formed by women to prevent the logging of forests in the Himalayas. In 1982, she created the Foundation for Scientific, Technological and Ecological Investigation, which has generated several initiatives that link women and the Earth. In 1993, she won the Global 500 Roll of Honour of the United Nations Environmental Programme and the United Nations Earth Day International Award.