“Mother Earth is the living dynamic system made up of the indivisible community of all living systems and living beings, interrelated, interdependent and complementary, which share a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered sacred; it feeds and is a home that contains, sustains and reproduces all living things, ecosystems, biodiversity, societies and the individuals that compose them.” – Bolivia’s Framework Law for Mother Earth and Holistic Development to Live Well, October 2012

Bolivia Enacts New Law for Mother Earth

Sara Shahriari
10/26/12

“Mother Earth is the living dynamic system made up of the indivisible community of all living systems and living beings, interrelated, interdependent and complementary, which share a common destiny. Mother Earth is considered sacred; it feeds and is a home that contains, sustains and reproduces all living things, ecosystems, biodiversity, societies and the individuals that compose them.” – Bolivia’s Framework Law for Mother Earth and Holistic Development to Live Well, October 2012

Can the Earth have legal rights? Is a radical change in the way governments and people interact with the planet possible? A new Bolivian law says yes, defining Mother Earth as a living system with rights instead of an object open to unlimited exploitation.

Legislation rethinking human relationships with the planet was drafted by some of Bolivia's strongest social movements, including indigenous groups and small-scale farmers, in 2010. That same year President Morales signed an abbreviated version of the document, called the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth. Now, after years of discussions, a much wider reaching text named the Framework Law for Mother Earth and Integrated Development to Live Well is also law.

The wide-ranging document addresses topics including the environment, land distribution, access to employment, healthcare and education, using the concept of “living well” as its core theme. Seen as a return the indigenous values, “living well” is a way of life that values the collective over the individual, and having enough over having a lot. In Bolivia “living well” is also presented as a turn away from capitalism, which regards the planet as a commodity, in favor of sustainability and a harmonious relationship with Mother Earth.

In addition to defining the planet as a living system with rights, the law generally calls for an end to practices that damage the environment—a large undertaking for a country where existing environmental norms frequently go unenforced.

So how would a new relationship of living well with the Earth take shape? One example of the human-Earth balance the law sets out is an approach to food security requiring that the state take action to avoid privatization of water and the participation of monopolies in the production of seeds and foods, along with promoting sustainable agriculture that doesn't exhaust soil. The law also calls for Bolivia to gradually eliminate the use of genetically modified seeds.

Some critics question exactly how dramatic a change to the current relationship with the planet the law really proposes. Bolivia's economy is heavily dependent on extractive industries such as oil and mining, which often have large-scale negative environmental impacts. The law lays out the government's duty to develop those industries while affecting the environment as little as possible. However, some critics say this is a watered-down version of the original call for radical change, and that it is incompatible with “living well” because it allows Bolivia to continue relying on the Earth's non-renewable resources as commodities.

President Morales, on the other hand, holds that it is possible to extract non-renewable natural resources, such as minerals, while respecting the environment—and that when a country carefully invests gains from those industries in the population it leads toward “living well.”

Bolivia must now begin forming the government positions and oversight committees necessary to make the ideas set out in the new law a reality, and only time will prove what role it plays in redefining human relationships with the Earth in Bolivia and, perhaps, beyond.

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

awagadoga's picture
awagadoga
Submitted by awagadoga on
Our hearts are lifted today with this good news from Bolivia. Our brothers and sisters there are renewing the path of respect for Mother Earth. We will walk it with them.

gsevalikova's picture
gsevalikova
Submitted by gsevalikova on
Thought you should know,that while surfing abovetopsecret.com, I saw the article today showing that in Brazil a small tribe is saying that they will commit mass suicide if they are evicted from their land, which some rancher down there got a hold of. The story is on Google also(Guarani-Koiwa)the tribe's name. It's on Pechanga.net, too,and anyone familiar with the BRIC alliance knows that Natives down there are in the way of this organization's plans for that region. Sovereignity is on the ropes from one end of this hemisphere to the other. International corporations/governing bodies require it. If America bows to the EU,China Russia,etc. Guess what happens if America rolls over as it did under Bush ?

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
Here's a good question for everyone: (This question has been copyrighted by Allayjah M.) Because the USA does Genetics research and other alterations on nature, does that go against the Bolivian Law of Mother Earth?

David LeDuc
David LeDuc
Submitted by David LeDuc on
Posted for Vernon Williams. The greatest news for centuries... Bolivia has passed a law making it an offence to abuse Earth, Yes, Earthlings our home, our mother who provides for our health and well being, shamelessly, we have stood by and see Her raped and poisoned on a daily basis with thoughts only for our selfish needs.. We know she is alive, one smell of Her aroma reminds us of that which can`t be explained, and yet, we feel connected... Through purification we observe Her devastation, and it is occurring more and more often, but still, we continue our mindless ways, giving preference at exposure to a group of elites who control this planet, when in truth the majority of you have no knowledge or the extent of what has and is occurring on this planet, or why things are the way they are.... Senselessly, you go ego tripping attaching blame when each and every one of us is to blame for the current situation including that of Earth, Now, as said before, I am not a computer person and this is the only site that I use, to say I am shocked and dissollusioned is an understatement, for, with such great news from groups of people who were able to get such a law enforced one would of thought the people on this site and of the would would make it an issue.. Instead Silence! Wake up, remove the blinds... Let me tell you this:The same energies that you so delightfully make accusations against are more fearful of us than you can ever imagine, so, make it a priority and advertise the Bolivian achievement and follow suit, become the third force (and you are) and you will be assisted.. I know the actors and the actresses or lets say the hypocrites and liars on this site,I also know those who are heart felt in doing their best to enlighten others, So I ask that the genuine users to make this momentous achievement a part of their daily thinking and expression... Thank You! Vernon Williams
4