Water covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface. Together with vegetation, it is the most important natural resource for the development of all forms of life on planet earth. A listed resource, exploited and wasted every day, by each of us.
Yet, it has no rights.
Rights, which are nothing more than artefacts, have the marvellous property of evolving and expanding. If some time ago (and in various parts of the world still now) it seemed impossible to recognize women’s rights, today we find ourselves having to break down the same barrier against the rights of nature.
But what if they were finally recognized?
Every time rights are obtained for those who didn’t have any, we create a more just world, but having a just world without considering the most present resource on the planet is impossible.
Water connects us, it is outside and inside us, with it we come into the world and become who we are. Protecting it is like protecting life itself.
The Vilcabamba case
We are in Ecuador. Among the green and lush mountain ranges of the south, the Vilcabamba makes its way, a river flowing near the national parks of Podocarpus and Yacuri and which plays a very important role for the local population.
Its name appears in the international press when, in 2011, for the first time in history, the river itself is able to defend its rights to “exist” and “maintain” itself. How was this possible? Thanks to the Constitution of Ecuador, which since 2008 has included four specific articles for the recognition of the rights of nature.
Thus, the Vilcabamba River was the first in the world to take the role of plaintiff and stop the construction of a highway that risked compromising the natural flow and health of the waters. The court not only decided to put the project on hold, but also granted the request for compensation made by the representatives of the river.
Gone down in history as the first legal ruling in favour of the rights of nature, we are confident that this can also happen in the rest of the world.