A Rights Revolution for Nature
Although the idea of granting rights to nature can be traced back to at least the 1970s (Stone 1972), this debate has reemerged in the past decades in the face of global warming, unprecedented levels of environmental degradation and climate change. The current climate and environmental emergencies are forcing us to reconsider our relationships with other species and nature in general. In this context, recent legal reforms have recognized rights to nature. For instance, the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution, based on cosmovisions of Andean indigenous peoples and demands of social movements, recognised Pachamama or Mother Earth as a legal subject and granted it a set of rights. In Bolivia, Law 71 of 2010 categorized nature as a collective legal subject of public interest whose interest ought to be protected according to the principle of interculturality. Specific ecosystems such as the Whanganui River and the Taranaki Mountain in New Zealand, the Ganges River in India and the Atrato River and the Amazon region in Colombia have been also recognised as legal subjects entitled to rights. This tendency arises from a shift from an anthropocentric approach to the relation between humans and nature to an ecocentric one. The latter is based on a fundamental premise: there is not a hierarchical relationship between humans and nature; humans are not the owners of Earth, instead, humans are just another species on the planet. Human and non-human agents are then governed by principles of relationality, interdependence, complementarity and reciprocity, among others. This is a shift towards a more holistic and systemic understanding of the relationship between humans, culture and nature.