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Ten years ago the Ecuadorian state incorporated the law of nature into its constitution. What happened since then? Voices of scientists, indigenous people and environmental activists from around the world.

Quito. - The final image is the image of the present: while representatives of indigenous peoples from different parts of the planet celebrated the closing of the Symposium for the International Rights of Nature, singing their traditional songs, the rest of the public, most of them mestizos and whites, took photos and filmed. The message was clear: After two days of long talks, discussions and statements at the Universidad Andina in Quito, Ecuador,we industrialized we need a memory of those who are still in contact with nature. A memory that takes us to a past of our own, when we - like all humans - maintained an intimate relationship with the earth and spirits, aware that our survival depended on their protection.

Today apparentlythe industrializedAfter having created an abysmal system of exploitation of nature, we want to reconnect. Even if it is with an image or a video. During one of the panels, a young architecture student went straight to the point, she said, referring to indigenous peoples: "I want to learn from you, I need to know the essence of what I am doing."

Ten years after Ecuador became the first state in the world to include the rights of nature in its Constitution, the rights of industry and commerce prevail. Spiritual emptiness prevails in urban youth, multiple frustrations in adults, and resistance from indigenous peoples. Wild and unmeasured exploitation of nature prevails, not its rights.

Faced with mining megaprojects, banana and shrimp monocultures, and current oil pollution, the preamble to the Constitution, drawn up in 2008, sounds quite cynical:We and we, the sovereign people of Ecuador celebrating nature, the Pacha Mama, of which we are part and which is vital to our existence.

And yet: the concepts ofSumak kawsay, of Good Living, have moved the planet. An oppressed worldview was made visible, the worldview of indigenous peoples and a movement has been created. El Buen Vivir inspired thousands of students, intellectuals, politicians and activists around the world to change something in their thoughts and perceptions. They began to talk about Buen Vivir and Alberto Acosta, as president of the Constituent Assembly at that time, continues to give conferences and talks to this day. He himself was surprised at the repercussion generated by the new Ecuadorian Constitution.

* * * * *

One may or may not agree to put the rights of nature in a written document. Apparently we industrialized are needing it. But in the face of the current dependence on nature, we should not forget what different exponents of the Symposium have highlighted:

We are all indigenous

This vision allows us to approach as human beings and also makes us leave the role of spectators. It allows us to leave the camera or cell phone and put on the collective constructor's shirt. Thus, the industrialized begin to take responsibility for their actions, stop blindly resorting to their photos and videos and abandon the projection of their hopes of salvation in the actions of native peoples.

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Voices from the International Symposium on the Rights of Nature

“When we started the process on the rights of nature we asked ourselves if it makes sense to do it legally. And we said yes. If it makes sense: for you. Because for us nature always had rights. So, if western society needs to understand based on jurisprudence, laws, a Constitution, it is important. It is important, so that the western society understands it ”.

Patricia Gualinga, Sarayaku, former foreign relations leader of the Kichwa Native People of Sarayaku (Ecuador)

* * * * *

“We need a different democracy, where nature is not simply an external object, but a subject. It has to be an actor. That forces us to rethink how we are inventing democracy. "

Pablo Solón (Bolivia) social and environmental activist, former ambassador to the United Nations

* * * * *

“What I love about my work is that now we are all in this room together and that our global work on the rights of nature helps humanity to reconnect with the natural world. We have been very disconnected within our modern system and I think that is a great tragedy. This disconnection from mother earth not only broke our spiritual hearts but has also created a disaster in the human experiment. I hope that with the movement for the rights of nature the people of the world will listen to the leadership of indigenous peoples, to change our laws and bring us home. To the house of Mother Earth, Pacha Mama, we made ourselves ”.

Osprey Orielle Lake (United States) Director of the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network

* * * * *

“The world celebrates 70 years of validity of the Universal Charter of Human Rights. I ask you: Are human rights fully developed? We are happy? I think the answer is obvious. So let's not ask that in ten years of a new Constitution the world or Ecuador change overnight. Ten years is a very short time from a legal logic. I believe that a lot of progress has been made in these ten years, although surely not everyone agrees with that approach. But instead of seeing the glass as half empty: Why don't we see it as half full? "

Hugo Echeverría (Ecuador) environmental lawyer, Latin American Network of Environmental Public Ministry

* * * * *

“We are very happy that a new senator in August mentioned the rights of nature during his first speech. For a country, where the legal system is extremely stable, it is difficult to establish new ideas, this is very important ”.

Michelle Maloney (Australia) co-founder and national coordinator of the Australian Earth Law Alliance

* * * * *

“We have to get out of our comfort zone, what the system gives you: an education that trains you to work in a large company and not have time to do anything. Just get out of the house, go to work, come back, watch TV and watch the stove. And do nothing to change that situation. It means that you have to get out of the job that gives you a fixed life at the end of the month and experience something new. Experiencing something that is positive for you, therefore for humanity ”.

Henny Freitas (Brazil) journalist, photographer, eco activist, permaculture

* * * * *

“Nature has its own operating law, its way of living, its way of materializing. It is not necessary for us to enact a law with rights. The human being is good at putting laws and constitutions before national institutions, but nobody respects them. It is good to speak and give lectures in these spaces like here, but if the culture does not have a personal experience in the jungle, we cannot explain how the jungle is changing and how we humans are changing. Our fight is not to defend the rights of nature. Our fight is the transformation that nature is projecting us ”.

Manari Ushigua (Sápara) healer and traditional leader of the Sapara Nation (Ecuador)

* * * * *

“If you have not yet been involved in this exciting movement, I encourage you to get involved in what I believe is a historic transition. We speak of a fundamental change in how we humans see our role on the planet: from changing from seeing ourselves as dominators and exploiters to contributing to the health, beauty and well-being of the most wonderful community we have discovered ”.

Cormac Cullinan (South Africa) director of a law firm specializing in environment and green businesses

* * * * *

“Important is the transcendence of the rights of nature. All conservation efforts are here - but they are insufficient. All the efforts we make from organizations, civil society, NGOs are good - but they are insufficient. All the efforts made by the academy are very important - but they are insufficient. It can also be important to participate in social networks - but it is not enough. We have to go from being spectators to being complete actors in the defense of the rights of nature ”.

Alberto Acosta (Ecuador) economist, president of the National Constituent Assembly (2007-2008)

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“Rights today are not only anthropocentric, but androcentric. When I talk to my students about social inclusion I tell them: we include women, indigenous people, Afro, girls and boys, older adults, LGBTI beings and rural people. In article 1 of the Constitution of my country it says:The supreme end of the State is the human person. But who is that person, what is the paradigm? The white man, Creole, adult, heterosexual, without disabilities, urban. That is why I believe that many women have raised a resistance movement ”.

Roció Silva Santisteban (Peru) university professor, writer and journalist on gender issues

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“We in Sweden are like the global stars of sustainability. That is why it is a bit difficult to question society and the system, because we continue to believe in the government and in general we think that we are on a good path. But the reality is also that we have one of the largest ecological footprints, we continue to cut down our forests and put up plantations, we continue to allow mining, almost without charging taxes. We are like a banana republic, perhaps worse than here ”.

Pella Thiel (Sweden) co-founder and board member of the Swedish Transition Network

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“Today, who does science serve? And science for whom? There is too much information and too much knowledge. But only wisdom remains in the hearts and minds of native peoples. For this reason we believe that the law that governs, the laws of nature of Mother Earth have to be above any other law, made by human beings. Mother Earth is a superior being and therefore we have to move from a positive right, from a mercantile right, to a right of life ”.

Mindahi Crescencio Bastida Muñoz (Mexico) Director of the Original Caretakers Initiative at the Center for Earth Ethics

* * * * *

“It is always too early to give up as a movement and winning is not always about individual campaigns or issue. Sometimes winning is simply acknowledging having lost, as in the case of Chevron. But what have we learned in that process? What knowledge have we shared? What movement have we created? Did we have a good time together? Do we share love with each other, do we trust each other? This movement goes further. We plant trees although we may not be able to sit in their shade. Our time has come. Let's go out into the world and fill it with hope, joy and love! "

Maude Barlow (Canada) Honorary Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and Chairperson of the Board of Food an Water Watch

* * * * *

By Romano Paganini
Freelance journalist and lives between the Atlantic and the Pacific. He has just published his first book entitled “Hands of the Transition - Stories to empower ourselves” (Notes for Citizenship, Quito / December 2017).

Video: What to Know When Watching Gone With the Wind (July 2022).


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