People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth

In April 2010 over 35,000 from around the world gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia for the People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The Peoples Conference was called by Bolivian President Evo Morales in response to what did not happen at the UN COP 15 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009.  The failure of COP 15 to produce a viable binding agreement to address the issues of climate change on our planet and the exclusion of passionate grassroots voices led to broad frustration.  In Copenhagen, international networks of civil society groups, indigenous peoples organizations and grassroots climate justice activists united in protest of what has been described as “undemocratic, unjust and inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem.”

President Morales extended the invitation to individuals and organizations representing the broad outraged grassroots spectrum to come together to prepare a set of proposals which would present a new world view and viable solutions for the climate crisis facing our planet.  Seventeen major topics were defined.  In the months leading up to and culminating at the conference, self organizing groups for each of seventeen areas developed proposals which were presented and summarized in one Peoples Agreement.  Also developed and presented was the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth, a document calling for the global, universal recognition of the Rights of Nature by the United Nations and all nations.  The process utilized the power of the world wide web to allow people from around the world to participate in the creation of the proposal documents whether or not they were able to attend the conference in person.  During the three day conference, each of the 17 proposals were debated and edited in a democratic process that allowed the diversity of perspectives and voices to be heard.

During the closing ceremony on April 22, 2010 Earth Day – International Mother Earth Day a clarion call went out to the world as the gathering of 35,000 participants acclaimed the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth and the  Peoples Agreement calling for the adoption of a new world view that recognizes the Rights of Mother Earth and values living in harmony with nature.

The Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth is now an aspirational template for countries and communities around the world.  While the UN General Assembly has not formally acknowledged the declaration, it has been presented to the UN General Assembly in conjunction with deliberations on Living in Harmony with Nature.

At the Rio+20 Earth Summit, the Rights of Mother Earth Signature campaign and the Eradicating Ecocide campaign, presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff with documents of 120,000 signatures calling for adoption of the Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth.