10 Years of Rights of Nature in Ecuador – International Symposium

(Please scroll down to find downloadable files in pdf)

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize Rights of Nature in its national constitution. To commemorate and celebrate the 10th anniversary of that historic event and to give recognition to the growing Rights of Nature movement around the world, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, in partnership with the UN Harmony with Nature Programme, Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, Coordinadora Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones para la Defensa de la Naturaleza y el Medio Ambiente (CEDENMA), Acción Ecológica, Casa Latina, Fundación Pachamama, TIAM, Superfoods, Tandana and many more, supported the realization of the International Rights of Nature Symposium in Quito, Ecuador in September 2018.

The International Rights of Nature Symposium hosted over 150 Rights of Nature Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders from around the world and across Ecuador to share their work and strategies to advance Rights of Nature, exchange best practices and lessons learned, and examine the legal work undertaken to recognize and defend the Rights of Nature.

On September 27-28th, powerful testimonies were heard from inspiring leaders defending the Rights of Nature from all corners of the globe (Ecuador, New Zealand, Bolivia, Sweden, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, UK, Australia, South Africa, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France and more).

Jorge Iván Palacio, a judge from Colombia who led the historical sentence for Rio Atrato, mentioned the importance of responsibility in our relationship with Mother Earth: “We, humans, should build a more harmonious and kind relationship with nature, and consider that the Earth is not our exclusive property. The responsibility of all species is not only tied to the beings that exist now in this world, but it also encompasses the good living of future generations.”

 Maude Barlow, Canadian author, activist, and National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, underlined the importance of building this movement in solidarity: “We are starting to understand that we are all one. Nature is our relative. Other species are our relatives. And if we stop hurting nature, if we protect nature [..], we will restore this beautiful planet with help from Mother Earth.”

 Tamati Kruger, a Tūhoe leader from New Zealand expressed the fundamental need for indigenous leadership: “Nature is the creator’s idea of wealth. We choose to not renounce our kinship with nature. The Rights of Nature will not be possible without the Indigenous people’s leadership and principles. Our moral objective as Indigenous peoples is to represent nature, not own it.”

 Cormac Cullinan, a prominent South African lawyer, author of Wild Law and Executive Committee Member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature said that “in 2008, Ecuador planted a big tree that has given seeds to amazing trees all over the world”, referring to the multiple and varied experiences and cases of Rights of Nature that have surged around the world in their own contexts and cultures.

Patricia Gualinga, a leader from the native Kichwa people of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon spoke about how violations of Rights of Nature in one place impacts the entire world: “Nature is a living, conscious being. Our health depends on health of environment. Scientists do not understand this because they have to prove everything. The spirits are beings of nature. Do you think that if we destroy the Amazon, [places like] America, Australia will not be affected?”

 Alberto “Coyote” Ruz Buenfil, promoter of the first Rights of Mother Earth Forum in Mexico and promoter of the Rainbow Peace Caravan mentioned that “what these Rights of Nature cases around the world show is that a phenomenon of natural acupuncture is happening to a sick planet by an important number of healers from various countries.”

Over the two-day Symposium, seven panels and four roundtables examined key topics within the vast spectrum of Rights of Nature, including “Rights of Nature: A Proposal for Civilization Change”, “Analysis of Rights of Nature Cases in Ecuador”, “Perspectives of Rights of Nature of Indigenous Peoples and Civil Society”, and more. Overall, 17 different countries and seven Indigenous nationalities were represented as panelists and moderators. More than 300 people from 73 countries, and more than 70 people from the provinces of Ecuador, participated in the Symposium.

Rights of Nature is being recognized and implemented from Ecuador to New Zealand, Brazil to India, the United States to Australia, and beyond. The two days of panels, presentations, and global networking inspired, informed and ignited new collaborations, new concepts, and new commitments to advance, recognize and protect Rights of Nature / Rights of Mother Earth. As a result of this Symposium, the Rights of Nature Declaration was launched.

On behalf of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and all of our allies, we are truly inspired by the work, contributions and stories of all who attended the International Symposium (or followed us online); we are deeply committed to our work to continue to advance with the growing global movement. For it is only when we work together in diversity for a common cause and vision, that we can keep building this movement and make a lasting change in the world for all of nature.

We want to thank all the participants, followers, communities, donors, organizations, and supporters from Ecuador and all over the world who made this event possible. We hope to have generated impact in Ecuador and around the world with this analysis of important Rights of Nature cases, connecting the growing and diverse movement of people willing to transform our relationship with Nature and heal the planet.

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If you wish to livestream the whole event please click on the following link> https://livestream.com/uasb/events/8369974/videos/180880429

To access the Symposium’s Declaration in Spanish and English, please click here> Declaración del Simposio/Symposium Declaration

To access the Symposium’s Report in English, please click here> Symposium Report

Para acceder al Reporte del Simposio en español, por favor presione aquí> Reporte del Simposio

To access and download the information booklet provided in the Symposium with all relevant information, please click on the following link: 

If you wish to download the report in English, plus the Agenda and Biographies for participants, please download the following pdf file: