Bolivia Climate Change Conference and the Rights of Mother Earth



The World’s People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was held recently in Cochabamba, Bolivia, April 19-22  as an alternative to the Copenhagen Summit held in December 2009, which are widely seen to have failed in securing a concrete commitment in reducing global carbon emissions reductions.


 Here is a video report of the conference:


The following document was adopted by the World People’s Conference on April 22, 2010.   For more details of the conference and other documents adopted, please click here.


1. Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth


We, the peoples and nations of Earth:

considering that we are all part of Mother Earth, an indivisible, living community of interrelated and interdependent beings with a common destiny;

gratefully acknowledging that Mother Earth is the source of life, nourishment and learning and provides everything we need to live well;

recognizing that the capitalist system and all forms of depredation, exploitation, abuse and contamination have caused great destruction, degradation and disruption of Mother Earth, putting life as we know it today at risk through phenomena such as climate change;

convinced that in an interdependent living community it is not possible to recognize the rights of only human beings without causing an imbalance within Mother Earth;

affirming that to guarantee human rights it is necessary to recognize and defend the rights of Mother Earth and all beings in her and that there are existing cultures, practices and laws that do so;

conscious of the urgency of taking decisive, collective action to transform structures and systems that cause climate change and other threats to Mother Earth;

proclaim this Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and call on the General Assembly of the United Nation to adopt it, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations of the world, and to the end that every individual and institution takes responsibility for promoting through teaching, education, and consciousness raising, respect for the rights recognized in this Declaration and ensure through prompt and progressive measures and mechanisms, national and international, their universal and effective recognition and observance among all peoples and States in the world.

Article 1. Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth is a living being.

(2) Mother Earth is a unique, indivisible, self-regulating community of interrelated beings that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings.

(3) Each being is defined by its relationships as an integral part of Mother Earth.

(4) The inherent rights of Mother Earth are inalienable in that they arise from the same source as existence.

(5) Mother Earth and all beings are entitled to all the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration without distinction of any kind, such as may be made between organic and inorganic beings, species, origin, use to human beings, or any other status.

(6) Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.

(7) The rights of each being are limited by the rights of other beings and any conflict between their rights must be resolved in a way that maintains the integrity, balance and health of Mother Earth.

Article 2. Inherent Rights of Mother Earth

(1) Mother Earth and all beings of which she is composed have the following inherent rights:

(a) the right to life and to exist;

(b) the right to be respected;

(c) the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions;

(d) the right to maintain its identity and integrity as a distinct, self-regulating and interrelated being;

(e) the right to water as a source of life;

(f) the right to clean air;

(g) the right to integral health;

(h) the right to be free from contamination, pollution and toxic or radioactive waste;

(i) the right to not have its genetic structure modified or disrupted in a manner that threatens it integrity or vital and healthy functioning;

(j) the right to full and prompt restoration the violation of the rights recognized in this Declaration caused by human activities;

(2) Each being has the right to a place and to play its role in Mother Earth for her harmonious functioning.

(3) Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings.

Article 3. Obligations of human beings to Mother Earth

(1) Every human being is responsible for respecting and living in harmony with Mother Earth.

(2) Human beings, all States, and all public and private institutions must:

(a) act in accordance with the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(b) recognize and promote the full implementation and enforcement of the rights and obligations recognized in this Declaration;

(c) promote and participate in learning, analysis, interpretation and communication about how to live in harmony with Mother Earth in accordance with this Declaration;

(d) ensure that the pursuit of human wellbeing contributes to the wellbeing of Mother Earth, now and in the future;

(e) establish and apply effective norms and laws for the defence, protection and conservation of the rights of Mother Earth;

(f) respect, protect, conserve and where necessary, restore the integrity, of the vital ecological cycles, processes and balances of Mother Earth;

(g) guarantee that the damages caused by human violations of the inherent rights recognized in this Declaration are rectified and that those responsible are held accountable for restoring the integrity and health of Mother Earth;

(h) empower human beings and institutions to defend the rights of Mother Earth and of all beings;

(i) establish precautionary and restrictive measures to prevent human activities from causing species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems or the disruption of ecological cycles;

(j) guarantee peace and eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons;

(k) promote and support practices of respect for Mother Earth and all beings, in accordance with their own cultures, traditions and customs;

(l) promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.

Article 4. Definitions

(1) The term “being” includes ecosystems, natural communities, species and all other natural entities which exist as part of Mother Earth.

(2) Nothing in this Declaration restricts the recognition of other inherent rights of all beings or specified beings.

2. Document of the Working Group on Agriculture and Food Sovereignty
At the plenary session of the World People’s Conference of Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held on Wednesday, April 21, 2010, at the coliseum in the municipality of Tiquipaya, working group No. 17, on Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, presented and approved the following conclusions. Group president Luis Andragó, Ecuadorian leader of the FENOCIN Association, along with vice-president Leonilda Zurita, leader of the Bolivian Association of Peasant Women “Bartolina Sisa”, submitted the following conclusions to the general plenary.

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Social movements and popular organisations gathered at the CMPCC [World People's Conference of Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth] confirm that despite our constant protests and numerous allegations, capitalist governments, international agencies and financial institutions continue on a path towards exacerbating the destruction of the planet. Climate change is one of the most serious threats to food sovereignty for all peoples of the world. Once again we observe that:

1. Agribusiness through its social, economic and cultural development of globalised capitalist production and its logic of food production for the market and not to fulfill the right to food is a major cause of climate change. Land use change (deforestation and expansion of the agricultural frontier), monocultures, production, marketing and use of pesticides and agrochemical inputs, industrial food processing and all of the logistics involved in transporting [food] thousands of miles to reach the consumer, and the production of greenhouse gases in the huge garbage and manure dumps from intensive industrial livestock facilities, are major contributors to the climate crisis and the growing number of hungry people in the world.

2. That plundering and destruction of aquifers, springs and water bodies, and ecosystems and ecological cycles that give life are inextricably linked to processes of privatisation that are driven by capitalist governments and international agencies. At the same time, we see how climate change will destroy glaciers and other water sources. We find that the basic human right of access to water for consumption, to living organisms and to food production is restricted on a daily basis due to the expansion of industrial agriculture, mining, oil extraction, industrial food processing, forest plantations, planting and production of biofuels, industrial aquaculture, and hydroelectric megaprojects.

3. That the territorial deployment of mega infrastructure projects in the service of capital alters natural, social and cultural processes making forms of harmonious coexistence with Mother Earth impossible, destroying livelihoods, driving rural, Indigenous/native and fishing communities from their territories and facilitating the expansion of an extractive and agro-export model.

4. Climate change causes forced migration in rural areas and is a threat to Indigenous/native peoples, peasant communities and fisher[people] who are most harmed through the destruction of their livelihoods, their ancestral and local agricultural wisdom, and hence their identity.

5. That biofuels are not an alternative because they prioritise agricultural production for transport over production of food for humans. Biofuels expand the agricultural frontier, destroying forests and biodiversity, generate monocultures, promote the concentration of land, the degradation of soils, and the depletion of water sources, contribute to rising food prices, and consume more energy than they generate.

6. That genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not a solution to climate change and are only a tool of corporations to control seeds and food globally. They signify a serious attack on local knowledge, human health, the environment, local autonomy and impede the effective implementation of the right to food.

7. They continue to develop technologies to serve the interests of big business while trying to pass them off as solutions to different crises now facing Mother Earth and humanity. We know that they are all false solutions used as tools for accumulation and business for large multinationals, which only exacerbate the dependency, the concentration and destruction. Among others we can highlight geoengineering, nanotechnology, terminator and similar technologies, synthetic biology and biochar.

8. That the advance of free trade through economic partnership agreements, treaties on free trade and investment protection, among others, are a direct attack on the sovereignty of countries and peoples, autonomy of states and the ability of multilateral action by international agencies. As implementation progresses, there is an increase in the destructive impacts on local economies, food sovereignty, environmental, social and cultural rights of peoples and the rights of Mother Earth.

9. That the current worsening of hoarding of land and oceans by economic groups, corporations and both state and private speculative capital are some of the most serious and imminent attacks faced by people and their food, social and political sovereignty. The extreme concentration and foreignisation of land, compounded by the current free trade rules are an attack on plant and animal biodiversity, on land reform, and on the reconstitution process of Indigenous and peasant lands for which social movements have struggled indefatigably.

10. That various forms of intellectual property rights are an instrument of privatisation that destroys local, traditional and scientific knowledge systems restricting the use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity and outlawing cultural practices and local, community and ancestral agriculture. Faced with this reality that people around the world endure, we the social movements and popular organisations gathered for this CMPCC pledge to continue fighting for a set of solutions and to mobilise in order to ensure that governments fulfill their duty to carry them out. We will centre our efforts on the building of food sovereignty, defending and supporting peasant and Indigenous agriculture as sources of food, as a wellspring of dignity and identity, and as a real and concrete alternative for cooling the planet, and believe in ensuring gender equality at the heart of our action.

The solutions that we see as priorities are:

11. Enhance and restore agri-cultures and local, rural and Indigenous/native livelihoods, and ancestral knowledge systems of production and harvesting of food, local and traditional health systems that have been degraded and undervalued by the agribusiness logic oriented towards overproduction, export and profit generation, noting that food sovereignty is the way to respond and solve climate change.

12. Promote and secure funding policies as well as socially participative and public control mechanisms for agricultural production systems to avoid damage to Mother Earth. These should include research, extension and public investment to eliminate the use of petrochemically based agricultural inputs, to improve soil organic content, reduce post-harvest losses, strengthen local markets, promote urban agriculture, protect sources and bodies of water, and support Indigenous/native peasant family farming and food sovereignty.

13. Defend, revalorise and disseminate the sustainable model of peasant and Indigenous/native agricultural production, and other ecological models and ancestral practices that contribute to solving the problem of climate change and ensure food sovereignty. This is understood as the right of peoples to control their own seeds, land, water and food production, thus ensuring — through production in harmony with Mother Earth, and which is locally and culturally appropriate — the peoples’ access to sufficient, varied and nutritious foods which complement Mother Earth and deepen autonomous production (participatory, community oriented and shared)of each nation and people. At the same time we reject global food standardisation and its nutritional, environmental, social, cultural and health impacts.

14. Recognise the right of all peoples, living beings and Mother Earth to have access to and enjoy water. Likewise, recognise the right of peoples and countries to control, regulate and plan the supportive and respectful use and management of water and its cycles in the framework of agreements and international conventions and customary law, banning any form of privatisation and commodification of water, creating popular participation bodies to regulate its multiple uses, protect its quality and plan future use for consumption by living organisms and food production. In this context, we support the proposal from the government of Bolivia to recognise water as a fundamental human right as expressed in the “Declaration on the Human Right to Water” and we see it as an important step in the right direction.

15. Ban technologies and technological processes that endanger the welfare and survival of Mother Earth and living things, and that are only driven by their potential to produce profits for a small number of companies, while at the same time cause and accelerate climate change, such as: agrofuels, genetically modified organisms, nanotechnology, geoengineering and all those that — under the assumption that they help the climate — in fact undermine food sovereignty and are an assault on Mother Earth. Impose a permanent worldwide ban on terminator technology, pharma crops and similar technologies.

16. Prohibit fisher trawling which is predatory and destructive of biodiversity and the livelihoods of artisanal fisher[people].

17. Prohibit large-scale mining pollution that destroys ecosystems, expels local populations, pollutes waterways and threatens the food sovereignty of peoples.

18. Reject, condemn and prohibit any political-military and trade strategy that undermines the food sovereignty of peoples and makes them more vulnerable to climate change.

19. Uphold the primacy of human, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the rights of Mother Earth and biodiversity over the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights treaty) and any other trade agreement under international law. Countries must also ensure respect for the collective knowledge of Indigenous/native and peasant communities, and therefore the collective right of decision making about access to and use of this knowledge. National measures to implement this would not be subject to proceedings under the rules of trade agreements that strengthen or protect intellectual property rights. Any formal investigation developed with public support must be for the public good, not subject to intellectual property rules that restrict information sharing.

20. Prohibit any form of patenting and intellectual property of any form of life and ancestral and traditional knowledge canceling existing patents.

21. Prohibit dumping (selling products below production cost) and unfair trade practices of industrialised countries that distort food prices and affect food sovereignty thus making non-industrialised countries the most vulnerable to climate change.

22. Implement policies and regulations to protect small domestic food production, including the type of subsidies they consider necessary for their agricultural sector, as well as ensuring their right to set tariff barriers equivalent to any subsidy incorporated in exported products and allowing the free movement of local production.

23. Affirm that the central part of the solution to climate change is through the strengthening and expansion of peasant and native agri-food systems, urban agriculture and artisanal fishing. This means that not only is it necessary to change the logic of industrial food production oriented towards global markets and profit, but to change the concept that assumes that the Earth is a resource open for exploitation, without rights, and oriented towards merely satisfying the greed of human beings. We the people gather together to declare that the planet is a living entity with rights and a spirit.

24. Promote broad-based, deep and genuine agrarian reform processes and the reconstitution of Indigenous, Afro and peasant territories building participatory rural villages with a focus on gender, so that peasant, Indigenous/native peoples, their cultures and lifestyles regain their central and vital role in world agriculture in order to achieve food sovereignty and restore harmony for the achievement of global climate balance. Agrarian reform of this kind must include respect for local and ancestral knowledge and ensure the necessary arrangements to ensure production at all stages of the chain (cultivation, processing and marketing). We demand the recognition of the rights of Indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation and that their territories be recognised and respected.

25. Promote and strengthen holistic education (spiritual, physical and social) for food sovereignty as a foundation for the changes needed to integrate their proposals at all levels of formal and non-formal education, developing content born out of local realities and based on a multicultural vision and the full participation of communities responding to the needs of each region and community. At the same time, we maintain that the extensive information and communication on these issues is one of the biggest challenges we face.

26. To declare native and wild seeds as the heritage of peoples in the service of humanity, as the foundation of food sovereignty, and their free movement through the hands of Indigenous/native and peasant peoples; cared for and multiplied by the custodians of seeds according to the cultures of each people.

27. Require that the impacts of global warming on food sovereignty are inserted within the framework of discussions on climate change and are inserted into national legislation.

These conclusions will be put up for debate at the next UN climate summit to be held this December in Cancun, Mexico.

3. `We demand the enforcement of the payment of climate debt’
Final document debated and approved by the Working Group on Climate Debt, during the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

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1. Climate debt concept

climate debt is an obligation of compensation that is generated because of the damage done to Mother Earth by the irrational emissions of greenhouse gases. Those primarily responsible for these irrational emissions are the so-called “developed countries“, inhabited by only 20% of the world population, and which have emitted 75% of historical emissions of greenhouse gases.

These states, which stimulated the capitalist development model, are responsible for climate debt, but we shouldn’t forget that within these states, there live poor and Indigenous peoples which are also affected by this debt.

The most affected are the poorest developing countries, future generations and our Mother Earth.The colonisation of atmospheric space has produced climate change, which poses a serious threat to the islands, coastal areas, glaciers in the Himalayas, the Andes and the mountains of the world, the poles of the Earth, hot regions like Africa, water sources, growing natural disaster-affected populations, plants and animals, and ecosystems in general, generating climate debt.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change recognises that obligation by affirming that developed countries are historically responsible for those emissions, and in sustaining that they should take the initiative to combat climate change. This fact is expressed in the existence of the Kyoto Protocol, under which countries obligated to reduce greenhouse gases are the developed countries listed in Annex 1 of the convention.

2. Climate debt components

The responsibility for the climate debt of each developed country is established in relation to the level of emissions, taking into account the historically emitted amount of tons of carbon per capita.

a) Emissions debt – We understand as the emissions debt the over-use of space atmospheric by greenhouse gas pollution by developed countries, taking into account the equal rights of all countries in the world to have access to the use and enjoyment of atmospheric space.

Developed countries must compensate as follows:

• They are required to reduce high concentrations of greenhouse gases they caused.

• They also have to reduce their emissions and absorb greenhouse gases.

• They must ensure a space for development for poor countries.

We express our rejection of the fact that developed countries decide to choose freely how deep cuts they intend to do, as proposed in the Copenhagen Accord.

b) Development debt – Developing countries are entitled to the same opportunities for development, to provide basic services to the entire population, and a degree of industrialisation which allows the country’s economic independence. But this development must not harm the environment and atmosphere. To achieve this development within a highly restricted access to the atmospheric space, they need access to all technologies – according to their worldview – for the development and funding required for its implementation.

Among the technologies we require are: recycling of waste materials, improvement of traditional techniques with new technologies, access to clean energy sources – solar, wind and biogas digesters, forms of protection against natural disasters, research into vaccines and medicines diseases enhanced by climate change, among others.

c) Adaptation debt – The impacts of climate change make the rain lose its seasonality, loss of fresh water sources, increased hail, frost, droughts, floods. They decrease crop and livestock production. The population is suffering from an increase in various diseases. These impacts have many implications at the economic and developmental level, therefor those who caused the climate crisis have the responsibility to compensate all damage, through: investing (with funding and technology) in the prevention of major impacts, full compensation for the negative impacts that actually happen and compensating opportunity costs, which involve the deviation of development funds, among others.

d) Migration debt – Due to climate impacts, millions of people find their own land uninhabitable, converting them into climate migrants. The compensation of the migration debt implies that the so called “developed” countries must drop its restrictive migration policies, receiving them in their countries with dignity, and recognition of their human rights and cultural rights.

e) Debt to Mother Earth – The debt to Mother Earth is impossible to compensate completely, because the atrocities committed by humanity have been too terrible. However, the minimum compensation of this debt consists of:

• Recognition of the damage done.

• Restoration of harmony with Mother Earth.

• Adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Mother Earth’s Rights [above], to ensure that the same abuses will never be repeated in future. This is to ensure that capitalism and the drive for profit does not contravene the ultimate interests of Mother Earth and the peoples of the world.

3. How can debt be compensated?

Compensation for climate debt is to be done through multiple ways, which complement each other. Indispensible minimal elements are:

• The re-absorption and cleaning the atmosphere by developed countries.

• Payment in technology (eliminating patents) and in knowledge according to our worldview for both clean development and for adaptation to developing countries.

• Financing.

• Changes in immigration laws that allow us to offer a new home for all climate migrants.

• The adoption of the Declaration on the Mother Earth’s Rights.

In addition we need to work on the structural causes that caused the climate debt, providing education for children, political awareness and respect for Mother Earth.

Climate debt is part of a larger ecological debt, which in addition to gas emissions includes all environmental damages that were made in developing countries for the benefit of developed countries.

4. Strategies to ensure climate debt compensation

To ensure full compliance with the climate debt the following are needed:

• The establishment of an international body that determines the responsibilities of polluter countries.

• The creation of an impartial International Tribunal for Climate Justice, which has jurisdiction in cases of default of repayment of the debt.

• Encourage a research study the responsibilities of climate change, determining the climate debt.

• Promote international awareness that the fulfilment of the climate debt is an obligation on the part of developed countries, and is not aid granted us.

5. Conclusions

We hold that the capitalist system and the developed capitalist countries as the main cause of climate change generated climate debt.

From this conference we demanded the enforcement of the payment of climate debt.

We, who live in harmony with Mother Earth, are her main defenders; from here we call on all humanity to join the struggle for the preservation of life.

4. Document debated and approved by the Working Group on Climate Finance
A. Financing commitments under the UNFCCC

1. Developed country parties included in Annex 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have committed to financing the costs incurred by developing country parties to cover the costs of mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building, including all adaptation costs. This financing constitutes an obligation in response to developed country parties historical emissions of greenhouse gases; and constitutes a part of reparations for their climate debt.

2. Developed country parties have failed to meet their climate finance commitments, in part because the current financing model – which includes both carbon markets and existing financial institutions outside the authority of the UNFCCC – is ineffective at meeting the needs of developing country parties to address climate change.

3. Under the UNFCCC climate finance must be new and additional to existing commitments to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals; however the vast majority of current climate finance by developed country parties is counted as both ODA and climate finance. This constitutes a double counting of financial assistance to developing country parties. In addition, this financing is channeled through financial institutions, the World Bank, and Regional Development Banks in the form of or attached to loans – even for adaptation, which increases the debt of developing country parties.

4. Financing for adaptation in developing countries must not be conditioned on mitigation actions.

5. All policy and program priorities, and eligibility criteria for funding must come from the parties to the UNFCCC.

6. Funding shall be available to all developing country parties without discrimination or conditionality, under the principles of common but differentiate responsibility and climate debt.

7. Financing must not undermine the sovereignty and self-determination of developing country parties. Financing must respond to country driven processes that involve communities in decision making.

8. Funding priority must be given to those communities and countries most affected, that preserve nature, and that have contributed least to the emissions of greenhouse gases; and respond to the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC.

9. The outcome of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action at COP15 must be the basis for negotiations in Cancun [in December 2010] (which continues the mandate established in the Bali Action Plan), and not the Copenhagen Accord, which is not a formal decision of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

B. Scale and sources of financing for climate change

10. The scale of existing financial resources currently allocated to developing countries parties for addressing climate change plus the Copenhagen Accord proposal to mobilise (US$10 billion per year between
2010 and 2012, and up to US$100 billion by 2020 annually – which represents only 0.8% to 8% of developed countries’ national defence budgets, respectively) is grossly inadequate.

11. Developed country parties must commit at least 6% of their annual GDP for climate finance in developing countries. The viability of mobilising this amount of finance is evident – developed countries spend an equivalent amount each year on national defence. In addition, developed countries have mobilised trillions of dollars (equivalent to five times the 6% GDP proposed) to bail out failed banks and speculators. This is a question of political will, and the priority given to effectively combating climate change and protecting Mother Earth.

12. The finance required must be provided from public sources, and must be new and additional to ODA, to bilateral assistance, and to funds flowing outside the UNFCCC. Any funding provided outside the UNFCCC will not be regarded as meeting the commitments of developed country parties under the convention.

13. The carbon market shall be eliminated as source of financing, because its capitalist logic promotes the paradox that those actors who will benefit most are the same actors who have most harmed the environment. In addition, market mechanisms allow developed countries to evade their commitments to reduce emissions, while at the same time benefitting economically from the climate crisis. Moreover, this model impedes the equitable distribution of resources, cannot guarantee a predictability flow of resources at scale, nor the timely availability or direct access to financing for those most affected.

14. Financing for climate change must be delivered as grants, understood as a part of the reparations for climate debt between parties. Loans cannot be considered as fulfillment of financial commitments. In the same way climate financing does not signify a donor/recipient relationship between developed and developing countries.

15. All Annex 1 funding allocated to military purposes and subsidies for fossil fuel producers shall be redirected to climate change.

C. Functions and structure of the financing mechanisms

16. A new financial mechanism shall be established under the authority of the UNFCCC, replacing the Global Environment Facility and its intermediaries such as the World Bank and the regional development banks.

17. This financial mechanism must be under the authority of, and accountable to, the COP of the UNFCCC. There must be equitable representation of developing countries in all decision-making and technical bodies, with specific representation of most affected countries. Affected communities, sectors, classes, women, social movements and civil society groups must also be formally represented; not financial institutions.

18. The management and administration of the financial mechanism must be transparent, inclusive, participatory and democratic.

19. The financial mechanism must respect the sovereign control of each country to determine the definition, design, implementation of policy and programmatic approaches to climate change. In addition, the mechanism must uphold human rights, including economic, social, cultural and collective rights, and other rights enshrined in international covenants and agreements.

20. The financial mechanism must be an operational entity that ensures the flow of resources to developing countries to address climate change in a timely and efficient manner.

21. A system to monitor, report and verify the fulfillment of developed country financial commitments must be established. Information must be publicly disclosed, and allow for independent evaluation and systems for redress for civil society through the climate justice tribunal.

22. The financial mechanism shall be defined and approved at COP16, and be made operational at COP17. Until that time, climate financing for developing countries must be ensured and increased through greater fulfillment of existing commitments.

5. Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration
The Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration adopted at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Translation by Ben Powless (via Capitalism and Climate), co-chair of the Indigenous People’s Working Group.

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We, the Indigenous Peoples, nations and organizations from all over the world, gathered at the World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, from April 19th to 22nd, 2010 in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, after extensive discussions, express the following:

We Indigenous Peoples are sons and daughters of Mother Earth, or “Pachamama” in Quechua. Mother Earth is a living being in the universe that concentrates energy and life, while giving shelter and life to all without asking anything in return, she is the past, present and future; this is our relationship with Mother Earth. We have lived in coexistence with her for thousands of years, with our wisdom and cosmic spirituality linked to nature. However, the economic models promoted and forced by industrialized countries that promote exploitation and wealth accumulation have radically transformed our relationship with Mother Earth. We must assert that climate change is one of the consequences of this irrational logic of life that we must change.

The aggression towards Mother Earth and the repeated assaults and violations against our soils, air, forests, rivers, lakes, biodiversity, and the cosmos are assaults against us. Before, we used to ask for permission for everything. Now, coming from developed countries, it is presumed that Mother Earth must ask us for permission. Our territories are not respected, particularly those of peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact, and we suffer the most terrible aggression since colonization only to facilitate the entry of markets and extractive industries.

We recognize that Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the world live in a general age of crises: environmental, energy, food, financial, ethical, among others, as a consequence of policies and attitudes from racist and exclusionary states. We want to convey that at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, the peoples of the world demanded fair treatment, but were repressed. Meanwhile the states responsible for the climate crisis were able to weaken even more any possible outcome of negotiations and evade signing onto any binding agreement. They limited themselves to simply supporting the Copenhagen Accord, an accord that proposes unacceptable and insufficient goals as far as climate change action and financing to the most affected countries and peoples.

We affirm that international negotiation spaces have systematically excluded the participation of Indigenous Peoples. As a result, we as Indigenous Peoples are making ourselves visible in these spaces, because as Mother Earth has been hurt and plundered, with negative activities taking place on our lands, territories and natural resources, we have also been hurt. This is why as Indigenous Peoples we will not keep silent, but instead we propose to mobilize all our peoples to arrive at COP16 in Mexico and other spaces well prepared and united to defend our proposals, particularly the “living well” and plurinational state proposals.

We, Indigenous Peoples, do not want to live “better”, but instead we believe that everyone must live well. This is a proposal to achieve balance and start to construct a new society. The search for common objectives, as history shows us, will only be completed with the union of Indigenous Peoples of the World. The ancestral and indigenous roots shared by the whole world must be one of the bonds that unite us to achieve one unique objective.

Therefore we propose, require and demand:

1. The recovery, revalidation and strengthening of our civilizations, identities, cultures and cosmovisions based on ancient and ancestral Indigenous knowledge and wisdom for the construction of alternative ways of life to the current “development model”, as a way to confront climate change.

2. To rescue and strengthen the Indigenous proposal of “living well,” while also recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with whom we have an indivisible and interdependent relationship, based on principles and mechanisms that assure the respect, harmony, and balance between people and nature, and supporting a society based on social and environmental justice, which sees life as its purpose. All this must be done to confront the plundering capitalist model and guarantee the protection of life as a whole, through the search for inclusive global agreements.

3. We demand States to recognize, respect and guarantee the application of international standards of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights (i.e., The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ILO Convention 169) in the framework of negotiations, policies, and measures to confront climate change.

4. We demand States to legally recognize the preexistence of our right to the lands, territories, and natural resources that we have traditionally held as Indigenous Peoples and Nations, as well as restitution and restoration of natural goods, water, forests and jungles, lakes, oceans, sacred places, lands, and territories that have been dispossessed and seized. This is needed to strengthen and make possible our traditional way of living while contributing effectively to climate change solutions.

Inasmuch, we call for the consolidation of indigenous territories in exercise of our self-determination and autonomy, in conformity with systems of rules and regulations. At the same time we demand that states respect the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples in voluntary isolation or in initial contact, as an effective way to preserve their integrity and combat the adverse effects of climate change towards those peoples.

5. We call on States not to promote commercial monoculture practices, nor to introduce or promote genetically-modified and exotic crops, because according to our people’s wisdom, these species aggravate the degradation of jungles, forests and soils, contributing to the increase in global warming. Likewise, megaprojects under the search for alternative energy sources that affect Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, and natural habitats should not be implemented, including nuclear, bio-engineering, hydroelectric, wind-power and others.

6. We demand changes to forestry and environmental laws, as well as the application of pertinent international instruments to effectively protect forests and jungles, as well as their biological and cultural diversity, guaranteeing Indigenous Peoples’ rights, including their participation and their Free, Prior, and Informed Consent.

7. We propose that, in the framework of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, states establish a policy that Protected Natural Areas must be managed, administered and controlled directly by Indigenous Peoples, taking into account the demonstrated traditional experience and knowledge towards the sustainable management of the biodiversity in our forests and jungles.

8. We demand a review, or if the case warrants, a moratorium, to every polluting activity that affects Mother Earth, and the withdrawal of multinational corporations and megaprojects from Indigenous territories.

9. We urge that states recognize water as a fundamental human right, avoiding its privatization and commodification.

10. We demand the application of consultations, participation, and the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of Indigenous Peoples and affected populations in the design and implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation measures and any other intervening actions on Indigenous territories.

11. States must promote mechanisms to guarantee that funding for climate change action arrives directly and effectively to Indigenous Peoples, as part of the compensation for the historical and ecological debt owed. This funding must support and strengthen our own visions and cosmovisions towards “living well”.

12. We call for the recovery, revalidation and strengthening of Indigenous Peoples’ technologies and knowledge, and for their incorporation into the research, design and implementation of climate change policies. This should compliment Western knowledge and technology, ensuring that technology transfer processes do not weaken indigenous knowledge and technologies.

13. We propose the recovery, development and diffusion of indigenous knowledge and technology through the implementation of educational policies and programs, including the modification and incorporation of such knowledge and ancestral wisdom in curricula and teaching methods.

14. We urge States and international bodies that are making decisions about climate change, especially the UNFCCC, to establish formal structures and mechanisms that include the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples. They must also include local communities and vulnerable groups, including women, without discrimination, as a key element to obtain a fair and equitable result from climate change negotiations.

15. We join in the demand to create a Climate Justice Tribunal that would be able to pass judgement and establish penalties for non-compliance of agreements, and other environmental crimes by developed countries, which are primarily responsible for climate change. This institution must consider the full and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, and their principles of justice.

16. We propose the organization and coordination of Indigenous Peoples worldwide, through our local, national, regional, and international governments, organizations, and other mechanisms of legitimate representation, in order to participate in all climate change related processes. With that in mind, we call for an organizational space to be created that will contribute to the global search for effective solutions to climate change, with the special participation of Elders.

17. We propose to fight in all spaces available to defend life and Mother Earth, particularly in COP16, and so we propose a 2nd Peoples’ Conference to strengthen the process of reflection and action.

18. The ratification of the global campaign to organize the World March in defense of Mother Earth and her peoples, against the commodification of life, pollution, and the criminalization of Indigenous and social movements.

Created in unity in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, the 21st day of April, 2010.



Further links you may be interested in:

Evo Morales (Bolivian President) on Climate change and the rights of Mother Earth

Interview with Cormac Cullinan (the co-president of the Rights of Mother Earth Working Group at the summit)

Can Capitalism Fix Climate Change?


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Posted by on Apr 28 2010. Filed under Climate Change, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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