President Evo Morales will pass “the law of Mother Earth” to establish 11 new rights for nature.
They will include the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
A major critic of rich countries’ refusal to cut their carbon emissions, Morales is president of a country that will become a desert if global warming continues unabated.
Bolivia’s vice-president Alvaro García Linera said the new law made world history.
“It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration. Earth is the mother of all.”
A ministry of Mother Earth is expected to be established and an ombudsman appointed to oversee the implementation of the new laws, though it is unclear what effect they will have on the heavy industry on which the country currently relies. Mining companies make Bolivia £305 million a year.
Communities will be given legal powers to monitor and control heavy polluters such as tin, silver and gold mining companies that are polluting the Bolivian landscape.
“Existing laws are not strong enough,” according to Undarico Pinto of the social movement Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia. “[This] will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels.”
Watch John Vidal’s film about Bolivia’s environmental predicament.