Bolivia: Invitation to the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights

By Evo Morales, president of Bolivia

January 5, 2010 -- Considering that climate change represents a real threat to the existence of humanity, of living beings and our Mother Earth as we know it today;

Noting the serious danger that exists to islands, coastal areas, glaciers in the Himalayas, the Andes and mountains of the world, the poles of the Earth, warm regions like Africa, water sources, populations affected by increasing natural disasters, plants and animals, and ecosystems in general;

Making clear that those most affected by climate change will be the poorest in the world who will see their homes and their sources of survival destroyed, and who will be forced to migrate and seek refuge;

Confirming that 75% of historical emissions of greenhouse gases originated in the countries of the global North that followed a path of irrational industrialisation;

Noting that climate change is a product of the capitalist system;

Regretting the failure of the Copenhagen conference (COP15) caused by countries called "developed", that fail to recognise the climate debt they have with developing countries, future generations and Mother Earth;

Affirming that in order to ensure the full fulfillment of human rights in the 21st century, it is necessary to recognise and respect  Mother Earth’s rights;

Reaffirming the need to fight for climate justice;

Recognising the need to take urgent actions to avoid further damage and suffering to humanity, Mother Earth and to restore harmony with nature;

Confident that the peoples of the world, guided by the principles of solidarity, justice and respect for life, will be able to save humanity and Mother Earth; and Celebrating the International Day of Mother Earth;

The government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia calls on the peoples of the world, social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders, and invites scientists, academics, lawyers and governments that want to work with their citizens  to the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights to be held April 20-22, 2010, in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth's Rights has as objectives:

1) To analyse the structural and systemic causes that drive climate change and to propose radical measures to ensure the wellbeing of all humanity in harmony with nature.

2) To discuss and agree on the project of a universal declaration of Mother Earth rights.

3) To agree on proposals for new commitments to the Kyoto Protocol and projects for a COP decision under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change that will guide future actions in those countries that are engaged with life during climate change negotiations and in all United Nations scenarios, related to:

Climate debt

Climate change migrants-refugees

Emission reductions


Technology transfer


Forest and Climate Change

Shared Vision

Indigenous peoples, and


4) To work on the organisation of the Peoples’ World Referendum on Climate Change.

5) To analyse and develop an action plan to advance the establishment of a climate justice tribunal.

6) To define strategies for  action and mobilisation to defend life from climate change and to defend Mother Earth’s rights.

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Considerando que el cambio climático representa una real amenaza para la existencia de la humanidad, de los seres vivos y de nuestra Madre Tierra como hoy la conocemos;

Constatando el grave peligro que existe para islas, zonas costeras, glaciares de los Himalayas, los Andes y las montañas del mundo, los polos de la Tierra, regiones calurosas como el África, fuentes de agua, poblaciones afectadas por desastres naturales crecientes, plantas y animales, y ecosistemas en general;

Evidenciando que los mas afectados por el cambio climático serán las más pobres del planeta que verán destruidos sus hogares, sus fuentes de sobrevivencia y serán obligados a migrar y buscar refugio;

Confirmando que el 75% de las emisiones históricas de gases de efecto invernadero se originaron en los países irracionalmente industrializados del norte;

Constatando que el cambio climático es producto del sistema capitalista;

Lamentando el fracaso de la Conferencia de Copenhagen por responsabilidad de los países llamados “desarrollados” que no quieren reconocer la deuda climática que tienen con los países en vías de desarrollo, las futuras generaciones y  la Madre Tierra;

Afirmando que para garantizar el pleno cumplimiento de los derechos humanos en el siglo XXI es necesario reconocer y respetar los derechos de la Madre Tierra;

Reafirmando la necesidad de luchar por la justicia climática;

Reconociendo la necesidad de asumir acciones urgentes para evitar mayores daños y sufrimientos a la humanidad, la Madre Tierra y restablecer la armonía con la naturaleza;

Seguros de que los pueblos del mundo, guiados por los principios de  solidaridad, justicia y respeto por la vida, serán capaces de salvar a la humanidad y a la Madre Tierra; y

Celebrando el día Internacional de la Madre Tierra,

El gobierno del Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia convoca a los pueblos y movimientos sociales y defensores de la madre tierra del mundo, e invita a los científicos, académicos, juristas y gobiernos que quieren trabajar con sus pueblos a la Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra a realizarse del 20 al 22 de abril del 2010 en la ciudad de Cochabamba, Bolivia.

La Conferencia Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el Cambio Climático y los Derechos de la Madre Tierra tiene por objetivos:

1)       Analizar las causas estructurales y sistémicas que provocan el cambio climático y proponer medidas de fondo que posibiliten el bienestar de toda la humanidad en armonía con la naturaleza.

2)       Discutir y acordar el proyecto de Declaración Universal de Derechos de la Madre Tierra.

3)       Acordar las propuestas de nuevos compromisos para el Protocolo de Kioto, y para proyectos de Decisiones de la Convención Marco de las Naciones Unidas sobre Cambio Climático que guiarán el accionar de los gobiernos comprometidos con la vida en las negociaciones de cambio climático y en todos los escenarios de Naciones Unidas, respecto a:

a) deuda climática,

b) migrantes-refugiados del cambio climático,

c) reducción de emisiones,

d) adaptación,

e) transferencia de tecnología,

f) financiamiento,

g) bosques y cambio climático,

h) visión compartida,

i) pueblos indígenas, y

j) otros

4)       Trabajar en la organización  del Referéndum Mundial de los Pueblos sobre el cambio climático.

5)       Analizar y trazar un plan de acción para avanzar en la constitución de un Tribunal de Justicia Climática;

6)       Definir las estrategias de acción y movilización en defensa de la vida frente al Cambio Climático y por los Derechos de la Madre Tierra.

Bolivia, 5 de enero, 2010


Evo Morales Ayma

Presidente del

Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia


Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 01/08/2010 - 17:38


January 2, 2010

Evo Morales proposed it last April, and now the United Nations has agreed to discuss it. Will humanity adopt a new declaration, one that defends our planet and its biodiversity from extinction?

By Pablo Solón and Comrac Cullinan

For Bolivia, December marked an important and historic step forward in climate change politics. We are of course not referring to Brokenhagen, where we saw the worst of intransigent, undemocratic and cynical tactics from the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide. The interesting action happened in a completely unreported event in New York when on 22 December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution which put the issue of Mother Earth rights as an item on the UN agenda.

This might sound rather esoteric, when you consider that in Copenhagen, it was the failure of rich nations to set ambitious and binding specific targets that led to the conference’s rightly discredited conclusion. For Bolivia, which is already facing unprecedented droughts, disappearing glaciers and water shortages, the difference between a target of 2 degrees or 1 degree is a matter of life and death for many. But we also believe that even if we had succeeded in achieving consensus on these important issues, we would still have left with a flawed agreement.

This is because the UN climate change framework does not deal with the root causes of climate change and the wider problem of environmental exploitation. Climate change is like a fever that is symptomatic of an underlying disease which must be cured before the fever will dissipate. The underlying cause is the belief that humans are separate from, and superior to, nature and that more is better. These beliefs have fueled the misconceived and doomed attempts of industrialized, consumer-based societies to achieve lasting human well being by exploiting and damaging Earth.

Bolivia’s proposal for Rights for Mother Earth is therefore about tackling these fundamental underlying issues. For centuries indigenous communities have warned that if human communities are to remain part of the Earth community they must behave as respectful members. We call our planet Pachamama, Mother Earth, because we know we cannot live without her. This understanding is supported not only by ancient spiritual traditions but also by contemporary science which continues to reveals the complex interdependence of life on earth. These perspectives are coming together in what is known as “Earth jurisprudence.”

Stabilizing the climate at levels that allow human life to flourish will require human societies to meet our needs in a way that contributes to, rather than degrades, the health of the ecological communities which sustain us. This will require balancing human rights against the rights of all the other members of our planet.

And this stated position isn’t just more hot air in the atmosphere. Bolivia, Ecuador and other Latin American countries already have begun the process of defining such a development path. We use terms like “living well” to describe a way of life that seeks not to live “better” and at the cost of others and nature, but in harmony with all. The struggles of indigenous people and social movements in Latin America have enabled this perspective to be enshrined in the Bolivian and Ecuadorian constitutions.

On 22 April 2009 President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia called on the General Assembly of the United Nations to develop a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. His proposal has received backing from nine countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). The recent UN General Assembly resolution approved in December now calls on all countries and the Secretary General to share their experiences and perspectives on how to create “harmony with nature.” In Bolivia, we hope to take this proposal forward in a People’s Assembly on climate change that we are organizing on Mother Earth Day, 22 April 2010.

So what would rights for nature look like? One of the most important implications is that it would enable legal systems to maintain vital ecological balances by balancing human rights against the rights of other members of the Earth community. Presently many environmentally harmful human activities (including those that cause climate change) are completely lawful. Most legal systems define everything, that is not a human being or a corporation, as property. Just as slave laws, which turned humans into property, entrenched an exploitative relationship between the two, our legal systems have entrenched an exploitative and inherently damaging relationship between ourselves and Earth. Even most environmental laws do little more than regulate the rate at which environmental destruction may take place.

If legal systems recognized the rights of other-than-human beings (e.g. mountains, rivers, forests and animals), courts and tribunals could deal with the fundamental issues of environmental contamination rather than being bogged down in the technical details of permitted pollutants and emissions. For example, a rights-based approach could evaluate whether the rights of humans to clear tropical forests for beef ranching should trump the right of species in those forests to continue to exist. Instead of devising ever more complex schemes to authorize environmental damage and to trade in the right to pollute, we would focus on how best to maintain the quality of the relationship between ourselves and Earth.

In 1948, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed, it was a declaration of hope into a post-war world. It had no legal basis as a document. Sixty years on the declaration has been incorporated into the laws of many countries and been the basis for the International Criminal Court. Facing a crisis far worse than any world war, might it not be time for humanity to launch a new declaration, one that defends our planet and its biodiversity from ever-continuing extinction?

From Bolivia Rising. Pablo Solón is the Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations. Cormac Cullinan practices as an environmental lawyer and is the author of Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Fri, 01/22/2010 - 10:36



Bolivia rejects US blame game on Copenhagen and calls for the people to decide

New York, 18 January 2010 – In response to US climate envoy Jonathan Pershing's attempts to blame countries of the Latin American ALBA block for the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks and the US decision to therefore sideline the UN in future climate talks, Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN said the following:

“The US' deliberate attempts to sideline both democracy and justice in the climate policy debate is holding humanity hostage – and will be viewed as both reckless and immoral by future generations.”

“It is time the US read the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's own reports, which in the Fourth Assessment clearly noted that 'Adaptive capacity is intimately connected to social and economic development, but it is not evenly distributed across and within societies.' Furthermore it states: 'Vulnerability to climate change can be exacerbated by ...poverty, unequal access to resources, food insecurity, trends in economic globalization, conflict and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.'"

“The only solution to climate change is one based on justice otherwise we are making a decision to sacrifice more than half of humanity. Climate Justice will mean radical reduction of emissions in industrialized countries and the transfer of resources and technology to developing countries. If the US and other governments can so easily find money for endless wars, bank bailouts and bonanza bonuses for the rich, they clearly have the resources to help save lives and protect future generations.”

Solon added: “The US admission that it wants to exclude the vast majority of the planet from decisions about climate change is deeply offensive, when the climate crisis will fall first on those who are most vulnerable. The earthquake in Haiti has shown very clearly how vulnerable impoverished countries will be to environmental crises. The US decision to ignore our voices is the attitude of a colonial ruler. It is certainly not change we can believe in.”

“The US climate envoy Pershing must be very deaf if he thinks that only a small minority of countries opposed the Copenhagen Accord. The agreement was roundly condemned in almost every quarter of the world, because it patently fails to tackle the climate crisis. The leaders of the world's largest polluting nations have failed us. That is why Bolivia is organizing a Peoples' Conference on Climate Change in April to put forward effective proposals for saving humanity from climate chaos. We invite all people committed to saving our planet to join us.”

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Nick Buxton – Email or ring +1 530 902 3772


1. Jonathan Pershing said: “Who were they? Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba. These are countries that are part of the ALBA group, a group that sees this process not so much as a solution to climate change, but in fact as a mechanism to redistribute global wealth. And they don’t like the fact that this did not do that. It didn’t do that, and they objected to that fact. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise, the rest of the world doesn’t want to do it that way. But they couldn’t get an agreement, because this group, this narrow group, was blocking it.” Pershing says future talks should center around the world’s largest polluters instead of trying to go through the UN process. He said, “It is…impossible to imagine a negotiation of enormous complexity where you have a table of 192 countries involved in all the detail.”

2. The Peoples Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights will take place 19-22 April 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia (For more information