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Vision: The Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Is Our Roadmap to a Liveable Future

"It is time for humankind to humbly accept that we have arrived at the precipice of reckless living, exploitation and destruction of Mother Earth."

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Respecting the Rights of Mother Earth would make clear to all that over-exploitation of the Earth's resources and the destruction of our environment are nothing short of criminal, and that those who engage in these acts should have their day in the dock of an environmental crimes tribunal. The Declaration recognizes that: " To guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her in line with existing cultures, practices and laws. Declaration also empowers human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;" and seeks the establishment of " precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles." This is the holistic declaration needed to halt our reckless slide.

Mother Earth has been kind to us. We have been nothing short of prodigal in our relationship to her and to one another. The path we have beaten for ourselves is one that leads to annihilation. But it is not too late to pause, correct our ways and take the right route. We have come to a major crossroad and the sign is clear. A choice must be made. If we choose to work for the sustenance of life as we know it, we must all demand the urgent Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Climate Challenge

Without any doubt, climate change is a signal challenge to humankind and all of Mother Earth. Indeed, climate change demands a change of all humans and our societies. Based on peculiar reasoning, rather than fighting climate change, many policy measures being put forward and promoted are aimed at making profit out of the crisis. Rather than retracing from the path that stokes the atmosphere with more carbon, we appear determined to continue in the same mold that created the problem in the first place.

It is known that climate change has been triggered by the mass of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and that these have been released mainly through the burning of fossil fuels and other anthropomorphic activities. Rather than moving into renewable energy modes of production, wars are being fought to secure supplies of crude oil and gas. Rather than reducing consumption levels, people are fighting to maintain their current and increased levels of utilization of polluting fuels. In fact, it appears that the carbon utilization level of a nation is the key measure of how advanced a nation is. The right to pollute continues to negate the right to life. There is a critical need and demand for climate justice, that the atmosphere must be decolonized, and the historical ecological (and climate debt) must be paid.

The climate challenge places heavy burdens on vulnerable communities that contribute little or nothing to the crisis and that are often not even aware of the causes of the catastrophes they are condemned to confront. Some people refer to freak weather events as "acts of God," whereas they are basically caused by man's actions that upset the balance in Nature and unleash reactions that we cannot resist and can hardly contain. The proposed Declaration rightly states in Article 2(2) that, " each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning." The Rights of Mother Earth are not limited to things that we conveniently label as "living things." Every element in Mother Earth is living, has a right and deserves to be respected.

The systemic roots of climate change cannot be denied. The model of civilization that is hinged on uncontrolled development will only compound the crisis. Wasteful consumption means higher energy needs; it ignores efficiency and elevates people's capacity to buy what they want, and not what they need.