Bolivian child playing flute while sitting astride straw bale

Bolivia has a law on the books that should serve as high inspiration for the rest of the world. The “Law of Mother Earth,” (Ley de Derechos de La Madre Tierra) gives legal status to Mother Earth, stating in no uncertain terms, that: “Mother Earth and all its components, including human communities, are entitled to the inherent rights recognized in this law.”

Some of the rights enumerated:

1. To life: The right to maintain the integrity of living systems and natural processes that sustain them, and capacities and conditions for regeneration.
2. To the diversity of life: It is the right to preservation of differentiation and variety of beings that make up Mother Earth, without being genetically altered or structurally modified in an artificial way, so that their existence, functioning, or future potential would be threatened.
3. To water: The right to preserve the functionality of the water cycle, its existence in the quantity and quality needed to sustain living systems, and its protection from pollution for the reproduction of the life of Mother Earth and all its components.
4. To clean air: The right to preserve the quality and composition of air for sustaining living systems and its protection from pollution, for the reproduction of the life of Mother Earth and all its components.
5. To equilibrium: The right to maintenance or restoration of the interrelationship, interdependence, complementarity, and functionality of the components of Mother Earth in a balanced way for the continuation of their cycles and reproduction of their vital processes.
6. To restoration: The right to timely and effective restoration of living systems affected by human activities directly or indirectly.
7. To pollution-free living: The right to the preservation of any of Mother Earth’s components from contamination, as well as toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities.

The law goes on to spell out the duties of the people, societies, and of the plurinational state across all geographies, to protect and respect Mother Earth.

Pretty special stuff!

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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