The UN Conference on Sustainable Development, called Earth Summit Rio+20 is now history.
We have made a bold statement for Planet Earth and Rights of Nature through numerous venues.
We of the Rights of Mother Earth Signature Campaign, along with other members of the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature, are confident we have made a difference in Rio. During these last two weeks we:
- hosted events, which Robin coordinated with a team of Global Alliance members both "inside" the Rio+20 Conference as well as “outside” in the Peoples Summit,
- delivered our signature campaign to both UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, and
- participated in a series of very personal, heart-opening moments at the conferences as well as in schools and one of the favelas of Rio.
Through your participation in our signature campaign and personal support, you have made this journey possible and shared your voice to the world. We are deeply grateful for your partnership in what has unfolded and will continue to unfold as we move forward beyond Rio+20.
Presenting Rights of Nature at Rio+20
Sunday morning June 17, we were deeply moved as we sat back and took in our international panel of distinguished leaders speaking about Rights of Nature as the Foundation for Sustainability followed by a formal signing ceremony of the Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth. The panel included Cormac Cullinan (South Africa - lead author of the Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth), Dr. Vandana Shiva (India), Pablo Solon (Former UN Ambassador to Bolivia, now in Bangkok, Thailand), Tom Goldtooth (North America - IEN), Nati Greene (major contributor to Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution), Linda Sheehan (USA) and Shannon Biggs (USA).
Vandana Shiva presented a beautiful scroll documenting over 100,000 signatures from schools in India. The signing ceremony was beautifully accompanied by a song specially written for Mother Earth by Milena Paraschiv and Radu Popescu from Romania, who won the Rio+20 Global Youth Music Contest. When they started singing, they filled the room with just the right touch to make this signing of the Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth a truly historical moment. We were moved to tears.
Delivering Your Signatures to Ban Ki-Moon and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff
On Thursday morning June 21, the Rights of Mother Earth signature team attended a briefing with Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the UN. We presented his staff with a beautiful document addressed to the Secretary-General documenting our Rights of Mother Earth signatures along with lovely scrolls from Vandana Shiva’s India campaign and the Eradicating Ecocide campaign. Our letter documents that as of June 20, 2012 we have collected 116,758 individual signatures from 113 nations plus signatures of leaders from 189 organizations representing 644,042 people who support this call. Our intention is to press on with our vision of gathering 1 million signatures. Each signature represents at least one, and in actuality, many more conversations about the value of embracing Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth.
So much magic unfolded to allow our presentation to happen. Our Rights of Mother Earth team came to Rio determined to deliver the signatures but without a clear avenue for formally presenting to Ban Ki-moon. Then early in our second week in Rio, Alexandra met Hercules Goes on a bus to Rio+20. Hercules is head of a major Brazilian NGO, editor of the very popularEcotourismo magazine, a former Brazilian Senator and attorney,and very well connected within Brazil and the UN media. He is on fire to bring Rights of Nature into the Brazilian legal system.He proposed the route to Ban Ki-Moon. Even as we walked into the event we did not know if we would actually have the opportunity to present our documents, since for security reasons, no one is allowed to hand the Secretary-General anything. Then before the event started Doris spotted a man on stage with whom she had made a connection earlier in the week. He was part of the official organizing team. She explained our intention to him and he immediately pointed us to Ban Ki-Moon’s chair of the panel for the delivery.
Later that same day, Hercules personally delivered a copy of our Rights of Mother Earth Signature Campaign letter to the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff and publicly requested of her that Brazil adopt Rights of Mother Earth. Before and afterwards, Hercules coordinated several UN Radio broadcast interviews with Cormac, Nati, Doris, Alexandra, Robin and others of our group. We had multiple interviews in which we announced the delivery of the signatures and the role of the Global Alliance in advocating for and implementing Rights of Nature around the world. Hercules also included an article about the Global Alliance and our signature campaign in the just released issue of Ecoturismo. The Global Alliance is working with Hercules to assist him in moving forward with Rights of Nature in Brazil.
We have succeeded in our initial objective of delivering your signatures at Rio+20. Our letter requested Ban Ki-Moon take the lead in opening dialogue around Rights of Nature/Rights of Mother Earth within the UN. A long shot request but we know it has been presented and more is at work that just our efforts! We are also distributing the Ban Ki-Moon letter to the UN representatives for each of the Member States.
Opening Sacred Space Day 1 at the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium
It seems so long ago – on the opening day June 13 of the Preparatory Meetings – Robin opened sacred space during our Awakening the Dreamer Symposium with the Pachamama Alliance at the inside Rio+20 event. Elaine and Bill Hallmark of Beyond War organized the event and invited Alexandra, Doris and Robin to co-host with them. Our intention was to open sacred space for the Rio+20 Conference itself and hold that space for our planet and all the participating delegates present in spirit and in person.
Louise and Doris did a presentation at the Youth blast of Rio+20 at the Earth Summit in Rio.
“What is considered ecocide?” most kids asked, Louise explained that when a part of nature is damaged to the extend that it cannot regenerate itself afterwards, hence it is dead, it is ecocide ─ just like if we would kill a person.
Magic encounter at the Kari-Oca II gathering with Indigenous friends and allies
Robin, Alexandra and Doris visited the Indigenous Peoples at the Kari-Oca II gathering. We talked with the people who travelled for a week or more over land to come to Rio+20 from the Rainforests. When one of the Indigenous leaders replied to Robin in Spanish (instead of Portuguese) she discovered that he was Marlon Santi and Patricia Gualinga’s cousin from Sarayaku, Ecuador. Marlon and Patricia had been with her at the IEN Rights of Mother Earth Conference in April. We were delighted to meet the indigenous delegation from the Ecuadorian Amazon. The connections we shared with them for the next few hours, it was amazing. We were deeply inspired by their bold stand for Rights of Mother Earth.
Bringing a little bit of the Earth Summit Rio+20 to a local school
More Rio+20 magic happened when the host family of Doris and Louise offered Alexandra and Doris the opportunity to give a Rights of Mother Earth presentation at a public primary school in the Meier district of Rio de Janeiro. We showed our “She is alive” video that Greenpeace had offered us for our campaign. The kids loved it and made drawings about the caring and love they feel for Mother Earth and Rights for Nature.
22 June, Magic for a visit in the favelas
Stepping off a bus, Doris heard her name and turned to see Marcella whom she had met at the Rio+20 Youth Blast. Marcella invited us to visit children in the favela near Copacabana, where she is a social worker. Alexandra invited Milena, Radu, and other Rio+20 music winners from Pakistan, New Zealand, and Australia to come along with us. Aaron Ableman creator of “Pacha’s Pajamas” and Robin also joined us. Touring the Favela, we were touched by the joy of the children as well as the community pride in their rooftop gardens, theater, and other creative projects. Marcella does these visits to foster peace and understanding between people from different countries and different income levels. It was a rich and eye-opening experience.
As for the overall Conference:
The heart-wrenching reality is that Rio+20 has fully embraced the commodification of Nature as the basis for what the Rio+20 compatriots call “sustainable development” and a “green” (aka “greed” by civil society) economy. While some aspects of “green” economy such as advocating alternative energy sources are positive, the commitment to globalization of an aggressive growth-for-profit-based economy has been further “legitimatized” by the negotiations here. The overall final outcome was not a surprise.
On a positive note, we were pleased to see Paragraph 39 of the formal Rio+20 The Future We Want document includes Rights of Mother Earth language.
39. We recognize that the planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that Mother Earth is a common expression in a number of countries and regions and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. We are convinced that in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environment needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature.
We see Rio+20 was a potential change of the tide moment in time in terms of our advocating for Rights of Nature & Mother Earth at the biggest global conference in the history of the UN. The official theme was theFuture We Want. For most participants, the intention was to examine together how to take better care of Mother Earth. There were over 40,000 accredited people from NGO’s, the private sector, UN delegates and government representatives plus an unknown number at the People's Summit and countless other conferences in Rio last month. The spirit was upbeat with many colorful and creative displays showing love for Mother Earth. We loved it!
We thank you and everyone who supported us in making this happen.
The Rights of Mother Earth Signature Campaign Team
Alexandra Postelnicu - Doris Ragettli - Robin Milam