In Ecuador Mother Nature is Pachamama – she now has constitutional rights. In 2008 65% of Ecuador’s population voted in favour of re-writing the constitution, giving legal rights to Pachamama. Her new bill of rights was written by a group from Pennsylvania, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).
CELDF wrote – “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.”
Ecuador’s president Raphael Correa dubbed his countries new approach “living well”. One of the smallest, poorest countries in South America, oil production is the life blood of Ecuador’s economy. Millions of barrels of oil beneath rain forests so ecologically diverse – one hectare contains more species of trees than all of North America.
Here’s the catch – Ecuador estimates oil worth $3.6 billion pool beneath Yasuni National Park. Correa asked the world to pay Ecuador, half the value of oil reserves in exchange for keeping it in the ground. His rational – global benefits of preserving Pachamama, far out weigh short term financial gain for Ecuador. So far 300 million dollars has been raised.
Correa’s forward thinking blows me away – 30% live below the poverty line, yet this tiny nation supports initiatives to preserve and dignify Pachamama. Ecuador’s innovative, refreshingly simple plan serves to remind us – change is possible.