The Rights of Nature
By Sarah Lander
Ecuador is home to many sacred species and sites. Two Rivers Reserve is an ecological reserve in the Amazon, seeking to protect and revive the nature that the unique environment fosters with reforestation at its core. Two Rivers is a part of the overall movement in Ecuador towards nature preservation and protection, and organizations such as TRR play a key role in such. Ecuador is unique in that it is the first country in the world to recognize nature as something that holds innate rights, the same way that human beings have rights. In the Ecuadorian constitution enacted in 2008, all living beings, including nature and all its encompassing parts hold intrinsic rights which by law, need to be protected. This is an important step taken by one nation to attempt to heal the damage that has been done to our planet by human degradation. Moreover, it seeks to preserve its own vast and unique nature.
The Rights of Nature are a controversial topic in Ecuador and around the world. Intervening on nature is a common means of financial gain, making it a point for contestation from many corporations. Furthermore, some have put forth the argument that nature should not hold the same moral rights as people. Nevertheless, establishing the Rights of Nature in the constitution means that human beings are held, by law, accountable to uphold the responsibility to protect the environment and the nature that surrounds them. Furthermore, the chapter on the Rights of Nature in the constitution instills the very values that indigenous people have been holding throughout history in all Ecuadorians- that nature is to be protected and valued. Including the Rights of Nature in the constitution represents a greater overall shift towards healing the nation’s relationship with its indigenous populations.
Pachamama is a term originally used by indigenous populations in Ecuador, and is a term embraced by the Quichua community who live on the land where Two Rivers Reserve is located. Since the constitution adopted the Rights of Nature, Pachamama has become a more commonplace term. Pachamama embraces the ideology that nature, as an entity in and of itself holds innate rights. Furthermore, nature not only has rights, but holds powers within itself if we embrace it as an equal. Pachamama is roughly translated to Mother Earth, however it goes further than its English translation, associating more in depth meaning to the nature which we reside upon and alongside. Pachamama is now a term embraced by a whole country, challenging the structures and shortcomings of modernity.
Ecuador having included the Rights of Nature in its constitution has set an important precedent for the rest of the world to follow. Although protecting the Rights of Nature has been contested and not always carried out in practice since its enactment, it remains a significant step in the right direction for the protection of our world’s nature.
Berros, María Valeria. “The Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador: Pachamama Has Rights.” Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia (2015), no. 11. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. https://doi.org/10.5282/rcc/7131.
Echeverria, Hugo. “Rights of Nature: The Ecuadorian Case”. Research Gate. 2017. Web.
Hayden, Rebekah. “The Rights of Nature in Ecuador” The Ecologist. 2020. Web. https://theecologist.org/2020/nov/06/rights-nature-ecuador
This page is happy to have many authors! From some of the Two Rivers' staff to our lovely volunteer interns. WE hope we can see Ecuador in as many perspectives as there are trees in the Amazon.