Tommy was so pleased when he cracked the code behind Tina’s message from her mum about ‘Bolivia.’ The message was given right after their heated debate with Mark at dinner.

They argued about whether Nature should have legal rights, and the clue was, he realized, a reference to

Ley Corta de Derechos de la Madre Tierra; the law passed by Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly in December 2010, to recognize the rights of Mother Nature.

Wow, Tina’s mum’s message came just after her dad had been angry about people criticizing the law and saying “just once I’d like to see someone come up with a solution.”

Trust Tina’s mum to point Tommy to a solution.

THE ACTUAL PROVISIONS are not in English, but for those interested, can be seen at

http://www.ftierra.org/ft/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4288:rair&catid=152:cc&Itemid=210

We obviously have to rely on one of the English translations, but the spirit of the provisions is exactly what this planet needs. The law draws deeply on indigenous concepts that view nature as a sacred home, the Pachamama (Mother Earth) on which we intimately depend.

As the lPhoto 8aw states, “Mother Earth is a living dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living beings, who are all interconnected, interdependent and complementary, sharing a common destiny.”

How exciting to see a Government recognize this in today’s money obsessed world!

Photo 9Bolivia’s law mandates a fundamental ecological reorientation of Bolivia’s economy and society, requiring all existing and future laws to adapt to the Mother Earth law and accept the ecological limits set by nature. It calls for public policy to be guided by Sumaj Kawsay or Vivir Bien (an indigenous concept meaning “living well,” or living in harmony with nature and people), rather than the current focus on producing more goods and stimulating consumption.

In practical terms, the law requires the government:

  • to transition from non-renewable to renewable energy;
  • to develop new economic indicators that will assess the ecological impact of all economic activity;
  • to carry out ecological audits of all private and state companies;
  • to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to develop policies of food and renewable energy sovereignty;
  • to research and invest resources in energy efficiency, ecological practices, and organic agriculture; and
  • to require all companies and individuals to be accountable for environmental contamination with a duty to restore damaged environments.

A new Ministry of Mother Earth, an inter-Ministry Advisory Council, and an Ombudsman will back up the law. Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5 million-strong campesino movement CSUTCB, which helped draft the law, believes this legislation represents a turning point in Bolivian law:

“Existing laws are not strong enough. This will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional, and local levels.”

However, there is also strong awareness among Bolivia’s social movements—in particular for the Pacto de Unidad (Unity Pact), a coalition of the country’s five largest social movements and a key force behind the law—that the existence of a new law will not be enough to prompt real change in environmental practices.

A major obstacle is the fact that Bolivia is structurally dependent on extractive industries and accordingly, people will need to make the ‘transition’ as smooth as possible.

It’s definitely a step in the right direction, It’s Our Earth Too’ salutes everyone responsible for this breakthrough law.

Photo 10