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Mother Earth Rights

Photo: Roberto (Bear) Guerra.

The current model of hyper-consumptive industrialization is exhausting the earth’s natural resources while flooding it with waste products, including greenhouse gases.  The natural systems that sustain human life – fresh water, food, fuel, materials for building and clothing –- are increasingly stressed. Marginalized people suffer most from both the loss of resources and the pollution.  Amidst catastrophic climate change, reducing our consumption and our pollution – especially in wealthy societies and the Global North – is a matter of the survival of humanity and its home.  

In April 2010, people from around the world gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, for the World People’s Conference, developing a Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth. Signed by hundreds of thousands of people from 122 countries, the declaration describes and asserts that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. This holistic recognition of the interconnectedness of all life and ecosystems is not something newly understood, but its assertion at this moment of global climate change and destruction of our planet make it all the more pressing and significant to bring to the fore.

Movements of people around the world are campaigning for the rights of Mother Earth to be recognized at national and international levels (Ecuador has adopted Rights of Nature in its Constitution),  and challenging their communities, governments, and international bodies to create the conditions for societies to live sustainably on a finite resource base. People are taking on corporations, multi-nationals, and financial institutions investing in the activities - such as resource extraction, oil and gas pipelines, oil-drilling off-shore, mining, and deforestation - that are destroying our planet, and challenging them to take responsibility and be accountable to their harm. Manufacturing industries are also being challenged to change the way they design and manufacture goods, across the entire supply-chain.

Many  initiatives are quickly spreading, from household- and community-led composting projects, to local governments mandating that all new housing be energy-efficient, to national agreements to reduce carbon emissions.

One movement that is taking on this task is starting with the trash we produce every day. The zero waste movement aims to eliminate waste, rather than seeking to ‘manage’ it. Zero waste considers the entire life-cycle of the material objects in our lives, everything from chairs to cars to computers, and recognizes that the “upstream” problems of deforestation, mining and global warming are directly linked to the “downstream” problems of waste, pollution and toxics.

Legal systems position nature as property, thereby legalizing environmental harm through regulating the degrees of how it can occur. Recognizing the rights of Mother Earth redirects the position of nature to have inalienable rights, just as humans do, and creates a new baseline for environmental protection.


MPDP Declaration Post Hurricane Matthew

MPDP’s position on the disaster of Hurricane Matthew in the country

The Popular Democratic People’s Movement [MPDP in the original Haitian Creole] shares its sympathies and solidarity with every person, family, organization, and institution victimized by the huge strike of Hurricane Matthew, especially the region of the Grand South [the South, Nippes, and Grand’Anse provinces] and lower Northwest in the country. MPDP respectfully bows our heads in the presence of the cadavers and disappeared caused by Hurricane Matthew while raising our hands to our heads in horror in the face of the dimensions of the material damage.


Interview with Gustavo Castro, Co-Victim and Survivor of the Assassination of Berta Caceres


Gustavo Castro. Photo Credit:

Gustavo Castro, the only witness of the [March 2, 2016] assassination of Berta Caceres, explains what happened the evening and days following the attack that took the life of the indigenous leader. “The Honduran Government has not yet called me to identify the detainees even though I saw one of the hired killers”.  Six months after the murder of the Honduran activist who struggled against multinational abuses, “the investigation is stalled”.


Berta Cáceres rallies a crowd. Photo Credit: HispanTV

I began writing a eulogy for Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores years ago, though she died only last week. Berta was assassinated by Honduran government-backed death squads on March 3. Like many who knew and worked with her, I was aware that this fighter for indigenous peoples’ power; for control over their own territories; for women’s and LGBTQ rights; for authentic democracy; for the well-being of Pachamama; for an end to tyranny by transnational capital; and for an end to US empire was not destined to die of old age. She spoke too much truth to too much power.

Deep in the Amazon, a Tiny Tribe Is Beating Big Oil

Nina Gualinga, Sarayaku resident and international activist on indigenous rights, traveling on the Bobonaza River, Sarayaku, Ecuador. Photo by Caroline Bennett / Amazon Watch.

Patricia Gualinga stands serenely as chaos swirls about her. I find this petite woman with striking black and red face paint at the head of the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014. She is adorned with earrings made of brilliant bird feathers and a thick necklace of yellow and blue beads. She has come here from Sarayaku, a community deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador.

International Civil Society Call to Address Inequalities And Social Justice in Climate Policy

Socioeconomic inequality is an integral part of the climate crisis, and must be addressed.

Climate change disproportionately impacts poor and marginalized people and communities, who suffer climate impacts more severely, do not have the resources to respond or adapt, and lack the resources and influence to demand necessary changes. Climate change particularly impacts women and girls. Climate change is also a factor in the migration crisis. Climate change hurts the poor or marginalized more than the rich, compounding existing inequalities.

Dangers of the Gates Foundation: Displacing Seeds and Farmers

Mariam Mayet, founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa.
Photo courtesy of Mariam Mayet.
This article was drawn from an interview with Anabela Lemos, and conducted, edited, and condensed by Simone Adler.

Mariam is the founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity in South Africa.

This is the first in a two-part article with Mariam Mayet. Please check back later in this series for further discussion on how the African Centre for Biodiversity is fighting back effectively to keep seeds in the hands of farmers and out of the multinational corporations’.


Our farmer-managed seed systems in Africa are being criminalized and displaced by a very aggressive green revolution project of corporate occupation by big multinational companies. This violent agrarian transformation is facing profound objection. African farmer organizations are outraged because decisions have been made and imposed on us in a very patronizing, patriarchal way, as if the agrarian vision and solution has been designed for us.

Alarming Developments in Palm Oil Industry in Latin America Spur Global Call to Action for Palm Oil Traders


​Global coalition of NGOs says murder, intimidation and the devastation of community livelihoods tied to rampant palm oil plantation expansion must be stopped.

Spurred by the recent murder of Guatemalan environmental and human rights defender Rigoberto Lima Choc, a coalition of global human rights and environmental organizations today alerted the world’s biggest palm oil traders of the gross violations of human rights occurring in the palm oil sector in Mesoamerica.

Recent conflicts between companies and communities in Guatemala and other Latin American countries have triggered global efforts to expose bad actors and seek intervention by governments and buyers of palm oil from the region to avoid ongoing human rights violations and environmental destruction.

African Seed & Food Sovereignty


Other Worlds brings to you a 7-part article series on African food and seed sovereignty, which will feature interviews with grassroots leaders (mostly women) from Senegal, Mali, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Each is working for seed sovereignty and the decolonization of Africa’s food system.

Brazil Aims to Torpedo International Moratorium on Terminator Seeds


At a time when just three corporations – Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – control 55% of the world’s commercial seeds, industrial farming interests in the Brazilian Congress have introduced a bill that aims to overturn the country’s 10-year old ban on Terminator technology – seeds that have been genetically modified to render sterile seeds. The technology is designed to secure corporate profits by eliminating the age-old right of farmers to save and re-plant harvested seeds.