One of South America’s poorest countries prioritizes mother earth in a law that grants nature equal rights to humans.
Bolivia will soon pass a law that encourages conservation of natural resources and pollution reduction by empowering communities to monitor and control enterprises that pollute the environment. The law–known as the La Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra (The Law of Mother Earth) aims to establish upon nature the same landscape of rights bestowed on humans, such as the right to life, the right to clean water and clean air, the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities, and the right to be free from pollution, among others.
The belief is that industrial entities can learn from the traditions of indigenous populations who have a deep-rooted respect for the environment. The notion of “Pachamama” or the spiritual entity similar to the idea mother earth, is increasingly being referred to in governmental discussions and documents.
It is not clear at this stage how the somewhat abstract legislation would be implemented. The state will need to be careful to balance the rights of nature with the regulation of industries (such as mining) that contribute a significant chunk of the country’s GDP.