Words such as “green” and “eco” and “sustainability” are thrown around a lot these days in terms of improving the environment and coping with climate change. Sometimes the words have positive actions behind them, and other times, well, they are just words.
If we’re going to protect our communities and environment from increasing degradation, we are going to need more than words. Simply put, we need a shift in the way we live and interact with our world. A paradigm shift. In India, the shift is called “Earth Democracy,” of which I’ll write more of later.
Last week I attended Global Exchange’s Human Rights Awards ceremony. The awards are given annually to celebrate and honor people who are giving back to their communities and beyond. One of this year’s honorees was Pablo Solón, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations. Amongst other things, Solón is working to get members of the UN to adopt a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, which would complement the existing UN Declaration on Human Rights.
As I’ve written a bit on this subject before, I just want to share some highlights from Solon’s speech, some statements he made to which we should all give serious thought:
- the biggest mistake that humanity is making is seeing nature as just a resource
- if we don’t respect nature we will face a situation where it is impossible to guarantee human rights
- our greatest challenge is thinking about the environment in a different way
- we need to build a worldwide movement around human rights and nature’s rights
According to Global Exchange, Solón has emerged at the forefront of a global movement to radically change the relationship between humankind and nature. He is not your typical ambassador, and giving rights to nature is not your mainstream issue — not yet at least. But I’m willing to bet that if we take a hard look around at what our world is like and what are lives are like, this movement on the rights of nature may not seem that radical after all. So many of us are so disconnected, to each other and especially to nature. But the earth is a living system and humans are part of that system.
We need to make a shift not just in the way we live, but in how we think of our world and our place in it. Solón’s view is that for humankind to survive, we need to develop another kind of system with a different relationship with nature. Radical? Perhaps. Necessary? With a doubt.