Ecuador added legal rights for nature in to the national constitution in 2008 (Bolivia has recently done the same). The new constitution incluides the prohibition of the cultivation of transgenic crops and seeds and the patenting of "collective knowledge" associated with national biodiversity, the recognition of water as a human right, and makes nature in general a rights-bearing entity. It was the first country in the world to do so.The Provincial Court in Loja, Ecuador has now recognised and acted on this new constitutional right marking the first successful case enforcing the Rights of Nature.
The case was brought in response to excessive dumping of large quantities of rock and excavation material in the Vilcabamba River from a project to widen a nearby road. This road project had been underway for three years without studies on its environmental impact. The associated dumping violated the Rights of Nature by altering the river’s flow, increasing the risk of disastrous floods and dangerously fast currents, and negatively affecting the riverside populations who utilize the river’s resources. The Provincial Court of Loja ruled in favor of the river and its indigenous communities, detailed in Protective Action 11121-2011-0010.
In the photo at right, the blue line indicates the path of the river prior to dumping, while the red line indicates the path after dumping.
This message of acknowledgement from Pachamama Alliance website:
The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment (CEDENMA), and Fundación Pachamama extend enormous congratulations to those who were instrumental in this first favorable ruling, including lawyer Carlos Eduardo Bravo González, who legally advised the plaintiffs and brought the case before the Court.
Most of all, we praise and applaud the work of the plaintiffs in the case, Richard Frederick Wheeler and Eleanor Geer Huddle. By investing their time and resources, they effectively defended the Vilcabamba river and successfully established a precedent for the enforcement of Rights of Nature.
We urge citizens and organizations in Ecuador and around the world to follow this good example of the defense of the Pacha Mama.