Giving Mother Nature Rights

Giving Mother Nature Rights – Natural Resource Development And Climate Change

Presenter: Barrie Webster

February, 2013

The ‘development’ of natural resources of necessity involves some disruption to the natural environment. The evaluation of the costs to the environment, and therefore to society, of the various developmental options is often discounted since there is seldom a good way to place a monetary value on the natural ecosystem, its place in the planetary ecosphere, its inherent natural beauty, and its positive effect on the life within it, including, but not limited to, human life.

A recent innovative approach to this conundrum is to give the ecosystem its own rights so that its value can be integrated into one whole living entity, and so that it can launch lawsuits against individuals and companies that threaten its integrity. Such an approach has been put in place recently in Ecuador and is also favoured in Bolivia.

David Suzuki has written an op-ed (Globe and Mail, January 9, 2013) that describes this interesting approach to the use of resources, particularly in Ecuador,

and has also made it the subject of a Nature of Things TV program. David Suzuki’s Andean Adventure

There have also been moves at the UN in the same direction:

Can these ideals be applied constructively here in Canada? How? What are the difficulties? What compels us to take this development seriously?

Other precedent setting related events: