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Bolivia’s Mother Earth Law

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Bolivia’s Mother Earth Law


Bolivia is the nation with the seventh-highest concentration of tropical rainforest. In 2013, there were 51.4 million hectares of forests, representing 46.8% of the country’s total land area. In recent decades, there has been a decline in both primary forest and total forest cover. 7.7% of the Amazon rainforest is included inside Bolivia’s boundaries. Bolivia is having a difficult time coping with the rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and more frequent floods, droughts, frosts, and mudslides. A law called “The Mother Earth Law” is about to be passed in Bolivia in order to safeguard the environment and the natural world.

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Bolivia’s Historic Bill 

Bolivia, an Andean nation, is poised to pass one of the most radical environmental laws in recorded history because to indigenous and campesino (small-scale farmer) movements. The main ruling party, Movimiento Al Socialismo (MAS), has already agreed to the “Mother Earth” bill that is being discussed in Bolivia’s legislature, thus its approval is probably assured. (MAS).

The Pachamama (Mother Earth), on which humans are completely dependent, is revered in indigenous cultures, and her teachings are heavily incorporated into the legislation. Mother Earth, according to the law, is a living, dynamic system made up of the undivided community of all living things. These creatures are all interrelated, dependent on one another, and complementary, and they all share a similar destiny.

Earth Laws 

Ecosystems have the right to live, flourish, and evolve, and Nature should be able to defend its rights in court, just like individuals can. This is the concept of Earth Law.

Earth’s health has been declining for decades despite environmental regulations. Profit typically takes precedence over nature since our existing laws only protect it in ways that favor people and companies. Since the environment does not have any inherent rights, even when environmental concerns are taken to court, parties involved must establish that the environmental damage infringes their own rights.

Mother Earth

The Mother Earth Law

The Mother Earth Law, a piece of law, is a symbol of Bolivia’s commitment to sustainable development, preserving the harmony between human existence and the environment, and giving priority to the rights and wisdom of the nation’s indigenous people, which makes up most of the population. The law’s stated purpose is to “establish the vision and principles of integral development in harmony and balance with Mother Earth to Live Well, guaranteeing Mother Earth’s continued capacity to regenerate natural systems, recovering and strengthening local and ancestral practices, within the framework of rights, obligations and responsibilities.”

The legislation comprises several clauses that describe the state’s goals, residents’ rights, and obligations in connection to climate change. It accepts the idea of “climate justice,” which is defined as everyone in Bolivia having the opportunity to “Live Well,” especially those who are most at risk from climate change. It serves to underline the idea that some nations have a greater obligation to address climate change on a global scale.

 It asserts that while planning and zoning responsible land use, climate change trajectories should be taken into consideration in order to promote the sustainable development of natural resources. 

Six avenues of action are used by the legislation to reduce the threats that climate change poses:

the systematic integration of natural catastrophe preparedness and management into the System of Integral Planning

Agriculture sector risk management to avoid decreased crop output and food shortages

the incorporation of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation into state development projects; the creation of information networks to provide early warnings during natural disasters and to help the agricultural sector and indigenous communities plan in accordance with climate conditions

incorporating risk management and climate change adaptation viewpoints to strengthen the territory management procedures of subnational governments Collaboration between the public and commercial scientific research sectors to exchange information and plan research on climate change vulnerabilities

 The Law outlines the state’s legal responsibilities and defines “Living Well” regarding climate change. By enhancing institutional capabilities for climate monitoring with the aim of long-term planning, the state will establish policies, strategies, and legal approaches to lessen the consequences of climate change and adapt to them. The government will also support the revival of indigenous customs that were historically resilient and permitted the resource regeneration process.

The law also establishes the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth as the state organization in charge of much of the development, supervision, and coordination of projects, programs, and research related to climate change and the goals of the Plurinational Plan for Climate Change. This state entity is housed within the Ministry of Environment and Water. Additionally, it coordinates the scientific analysis of GHG emissions. The organization will function according to the tenets of Bolivia’s climate change politics and within the parameters of “climate justice.”

The Joint Mechanism of Mitigation and Adaptation for the Integral and Sustainable Management of Mother Earth’s Forests, the Mitigation Mechanism to “Living Well,” and the Adaptation Mechanism to “Living Well” will all be used by the Authority to carry out its operations.

Conserving the Blessings and restricting Development?  

Rich mineral riches found across the nation are now referred to as “blessings” under the Law of Mother Earth, which is anticipated to inspire revolutionary new conservation and social policies to lessen pollution and regulate business. The nation will establish 11 new rights for wildlife after being criticized by the US and Britain in the UN climate negotiations for seeking drastic reductions in carbon emissions. The right to pure water and clean air, the right to balance, the right not to be contaminated, and the right to not have one’s cellular structure or genetic makeup altered are among them. These rights also encompass the right to life and the right to exist. 

It will also contentiously establish the natural world’s right “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities.” 

“It creates global history. Vice-President Alvaro Garca Linera declared, “Earth is the mother of all.” In order to ensure that nature can regenerate, a new connection between man and nature must be established.

An emerging indigenous Andean spiritual worldview that places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the center of all life has had a significant influence on the law, which is a component of a complete restructuring of Bolivia’s legal system following a change in the country’s constitution in 2009. All other beings are regarded as equal to humans.

However, it is not anticipated that the new restrictions would halt industry completely. Although it is yet unclear exactly what legal protections for bugs, insects, and ecosystems the new rights would provide, the government is anticipated to create a ministry of mother earth and appoint an ombudsman. Additionally, it pledged to granting local governments greater legal authority to oversee and regulate polluting companies.

Because of the extraction of raw commodities like tin, silver, gold, and other minerals, Bolivia has long had severe environmental issues. Undarico Pinto, the 3.5 million-member Confederación Sindical nica de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the largest social organization in Bolivia, who assisted in the law’s drafting, stated, “Existing laws are not strong enough.” It will increase industry transparency. People will be able to control industry at the municipal, regional, and federal levels.

Bolivia’s traditional indigenous reverence for the Pachamama, according to foreign minister David Choquehuanca, is essential to halting climate change. We were told by our ancestors that we are a part of a large family of plants and animals. Everything on the globe, in our opinion, is a member of a large family. We indigenous people can help with energy, environment, food and financial issues with our values.

Urgency to cope up with climate change

Bolivia is having a difficult time coping with the rising temperatures, melting glaciers, and more frequent floods, droughts, frosts, and mudslides. 

The capital city of La Paz’s glaciologist Edson Ramirez’s research reveals that temperatures have been rising gradually for 60 years and have accelerated since 1979. They are currently projected to increase by 3.5–4C further during the next century. Due to this, much of Bolivia would become a desert. 

Within 20 years, the majority of glaciers below 5,000 meters are predicted to totally vanish, leaving Bolivia with a substantially smaller ice cover. According to scientists, this will cause a farming problem and water shortages in towns like La Paz and El Alto.

First indigenous president of Latin America, Evo Morales, has criticized developed nations in the UN openly for their unwillingness to limit global warming to a 1C increase.


The indigenous populations in the area have the knowledge and skills necessary to save the environment, much of which has been intricately woven into custom and way of life for a very long time. Indigenous groups will benefit from consultation and inclusion in the fight against climate change, but they may also be those most impacted by shifting climatic patterns and alterations to the land. Strong collaborations between Indigenous people and various nations can only advance environmental protection, and as Bolivia’s and Ecuador’s experiences demonstrate, they may be the key to the ultimate success of legislation that recognizes the rights of the Earth.

contributed by Sanal Pillai

Edited by Imtiaz Ullah

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