Episode 4: Does Nature Have Rights?
Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet—a country about the size of Nevada that’s estimated to be home to twice the number of plant and animal species as the United States and Canada combined. It’s also is the first country in the world to enshrine the “rights of nature” in its constitution—to establish that species other than humans have their own legal right to exist. And now this revolutionary concept is being put to the test.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where else have 'rights of nature' been protected worldwide?
Year by year, the movement to enshrine rights of nature into state and national law is expanding: from Mexico to Columbia and Brazil, and even in a town of 7000 people in eastern Pennsylvania, which passed one of the first rights of nature laws in the United States to prevent sewage dumping.
And in Montana, young environmental activists lead a ground-breaking legal victory when a judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel development — read more on that story here.
Are there any updates on the story from Ecuador?
In August of 2023, Ecuadorians voted against drilling for oil in a protected area of the Amazon, an important decision that will require the state oil company to end its operations in a region that’s home to two uncontacted tribes and is a hotspot of biodiversity.