Pachamama and Ecuador’s Constitutional Assembly Explore Creation of an Environmental State

April 01, 2008 | By The Pachamama Alliance

Ecuador is writing one of the most important chapters of its history with its newly elected and functioning Constitutional Assembly in charge of creating a new Constitution. Pachamama’s Ecuadorian operation,  Fundación Pachamama, is seizing that opportunity to aid the Assembly members in their task of turning Ecuador into an environmental state guided by a sustainable development model that responds more coherently to the country’s rich biological and cultural diversity.

Fundación Pachamama is working directly with the Assembly members, especially those dedicated to Ecuador’s natural resources and biodiversity. Seven key topics were selected to be worked on in the constitutional creation process: how to pass from an extractive development model to a sustainable development model; how to introduce rights for Nature into this new constitution; how to incorporate alternative national accounts that consider and monitor Nature; how to limit corporate power; how the resource of water is treated; how renewable resources are managed (involving activities such as fishing, hunting and timber); as well as non-renewable resources (oil extraction and mining). The objective was to come up with proposals for each of these detailed topics that includes an explanation of the real consequences to Ecuador under a model that has neglected Nature, and the necessary elements that should be taken into account for crafting this new Magna Carta. This work was done with the contributions of all the environmental sectors and actors in Ecuador, including the National Environmentalist Assembly.

Some results from this work are already visible. After Pachamama arranged the Assembly visit of Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil of the Pennsylvania-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund one month ago, the debate started among Assembly members about the importance of recognizing rights for Nature, especially in a country as rich in biodiversity as Ecuador. Giving rights to Nature could potentially codify sustainable development and align with the vision of indigenous cultures previously ignored; Nature is not some-thing to be exploited, but some-body to be respected and taken care of. It will also limit extractive activities that threaten Nature’s capacity to exist, prosper and maintain its natural vital cycles, thus limiting corporate power. The President’s political party, Alianza País, recently agreed to support the initiative of inserting this right into the new constitution, and starting last week, the debate began at the General Assembly. This revolutionary idea is also receiving wide media coverage and civil society debate in Ecuador.

Fundación Pachamama will continue to accompany the Constitutional Assembly’s process, and together with other key actors from Ecuador’s civil society, will keep working to fully leverage this historical opportunity to transform Ecuador.