Nature’s Right to Sue


“Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish, and evolve.” So begins Article 1 of the new Ecuadorian Constitution, approved by popular referendum in September 2008. Rather than regulating how much harm can be done to the environment–the traditional way of governing the amount of pollution or development that is acceptable–Ecuador’s constitution recognizes that nature has as many rights as your average logger. According to the constitution, every citizen, community, and government has the duty to demand these rights for the Pachamama, the indigenous goddess of nature.

Ecuador’s decision to enshrine nature in its constitution follows Costa Rica’s efforts to promote itself as a green mecca in the region, suggesting a promising “arms” race for sustainable solutions in the region.