Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
- Date submitted: 1 Nov 2011
- Stakeholder type: Member State
- Submission Document: Download
- Additional Document:
Proposal of the Plurinational State of Bolivia for the United Nations
Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
The Rights of Nature
The proposals developed by the Plurinational State of Bolivia bring together and
build upon the progress made in the World Charter for Nature (1982), the Rio
Declaration (1992), the Earth Charter (2000), and the World People?s Conference
on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (2010):
I. A DEEPER COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST
In this century, the central challenges of sustainable development are: on
the one hand, to overcome poverty and the tremendous inequalities that
exist and, on the other hand, reestablish the equilibrium of the Earth
system. Both objectives are intrinsically linked and one cannot be reached
independently of the other.
It is essential to recognize and affirm that growth has limits. The pursuit of
unending development on a finite planet is unsustainable and impossible.
The limit to development is defined by the regenerative capacity of the
Earth?s vital cycles. When growth begins to break that balance, as we see
with global warming, we can no longer speak of it as development, but
rather, the deterioration and destruction of our home. A certain level of
growth and industrialization is needed to satisfy basic needs and
guarantee the human rights of a population, but this level of ?necessary
development? is not about permanent growth, but rather, balance among
humans and with nature.
New technologies will not allow unending economic growth. Scientific
advances, under some circumstances, can contribute to resolve certain
problems of development but can?t ignore the natural limits of the Earth
The main challenge for the eradication of poverty is not to grow forever,
but to achieve an equitable distribution of the wealth that is possible under
the limits of the Earth system. In a world in which 1% of the population
controls 50% of the wealth of the planet, it will not be possible to eradicate
poverty or restore harmony with nature.
Sustainable development seeks to eradicate poverty in order to live well,
not generate wealthy people who live at the expense of the poor. The goal
is the satisfaction of basic human needs in order to allow for the
development of human capabilities and human happiness, strengthening
community among human beings and with Mother Earth.
To end poverty and achieve an equitable distribution of wellbeing, the
basic resources and companies should be in the hands of the public
sector and society. Only a society that controls its principal sources of
income can aspire to a just distribution of the benefits needed to eliminate
The so-called ?developed? countries must reduce their levels of overconsumption
and overexplotation of resources of the world in order to
reestablish harmony among human beings and with nature, allowing for
the sustainable development of all developing countries.
Developing countries should realize their right to development following
patterns and paradigms that are distinct from those of developed
countries. It is not sustainable or viable for all countries to follow the
example of developed countries without causing the collapse of our Earth
system. The ecological footprint of the developed countries is between 3
and 5 times larger than the average ecological footprint that the Earth
system can sustain without an impact on its vital cycles.
Sustainable development can only be achieved from a global perspective
and cannot be achieved only in the national level. The wellbeing of a
country is only sustainable if it also serves to contribute to the wellbeing of
the entire Earth system. The so-called developed countries are still far
from reaching sustainable development.
Sustainable development should ensure equilibrium among the three
pillars ? social, economic, and environmental ? which are interrelated,
preserving the fundamental principle of common but differentiated
II. THE NEW EMERGING CHALLENGE: RESTORING THE EQUILIBRIUM OF
THE EARTH SYSTEM
The emerging challenges of the 21st Century are the product of
exaggerated ambition and accumulation of wealth concentrated in a few
sectors, the exacerbation and combination of different contradictions that
were present in the last century. The various crises that exist in the areas
of food, energy, the environment, climate, finance, water, and even
institutions have reached chronic levels and are feeding off of one
another, in some cases to the point of no return.
We are living an environmental crisis that, as it deepens, threatens the
existence of human beings and life as a whole. The Earth is a living
system and the source of life. It is an indivisible, interdependent and
interrelated community comprised of human beings, nature, the
atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. The Earth system has intrinsic
laws that regulate its functioning, articulating the physical, chemical,
biological and ecological elements in a manner that makes life possible.
Through the term Mother Earth, we express this relationship of belonging
to a system and respect for our home.
Human activity is altering the dynamics and functioning of the Earth
system to a degree never before seen. The capitalist system is the
principal cause of the imbalance because it puts the rules of the market
and the accumulation of profit above the laws of nature. Nature is not
simply a sum of elements, it?s not a source of resources that can be
exploited, modified, altered, privatized, commercialized and transformed
without any consequences.
Human beings and nature are at the center of concerns for sustainable
development. It is essential to get beyond the anthropocentric vision. Until
now, no species besides Man has been able to modify the characteristics
of the planet in such a substantial way and in such a short period of time.
It is essential to restore and guarantee the existence, integrity,
interrelation, interaction and regeneration of the Earth system as a whole
and of all of its components in order to achieve a sustainable development
that is capable of confronting the multiple crises facing humanity and the
III. TOOLS FOR FIXING THE PERSISTENT GAPS AND ACHIEVE
To reestablish harmony with nature, we must recognize and respect the
intrinsic laws of nature and its vital cycles. Not only do human beings have
a right to a healthy life, but so do the other components and species
belonging to the system we call nature. In an interdependent and
interrelated system like the planet Earth, it is not possible to recognize the
rights of just the human part of the system without affecting the whole.
Just as human beings have rights, the Mother Earth also has the right to
exist, the right to maintain its vital cycles, the right to regeneration, the
right to be free from structural alteration, and the right to relate to the other
parts of the Earth system. In order to reestablish balance with nature, it is
necessary to clearly establish the obligations of humans toward nature,
and to recognize that nature has rights that should be respected,
promoted, and defended.
We have to end the system of consumption, waste and luxury. Millions of
people are dying of hunger in the poorest parts of the globe, while the
richest spend millions of dollars are spent to combat obesity. Developed
countries must change their unsustainable patterns of consumption,
production, and waste through public policies, regulations, the conscious
and active participation of society, This includes promoting ethics that
value human beings for what they are, not what they have.
It is necessary to guarantee the human right to water, education, health,
communication, transportation, energy and sanitation. The provision of
these services must be essentially public and based on efficient social
management, not private business. The principal goal should be common
wellbeing and not private profit, in order to ensure that these services
reach the poorest and most marginalized sectors in an equitable manner.
States should ensure the right of their populations to proper nutrition by
strengthening food sovereignty policies that promote: a) food production
by farmers, indigenous peoples and small agricultural producers; b)
access to land, water, seeds, credit and other resources for family and
community producers; c) the development of social and public enterprises
for food production, distribution, and sale that prevent hoarding and
contribute to the stability of food prices in domestic markets, thus halting
speculative practices and the destruction of local production; d) the right of
citizens to define and to know and have the proper information about what
they consume, the way their food is produced, and its origins; e) the right
to healthy, varied and nutritious food; f) the right to consume what is
necessary and prioritize local production; g) practices that contribute to
reestablishing harmony with nature, avoiding greater desertification,
deforestation, and destruction of biological diversity; h) the promotion of
the use of indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge. Food production
and commercialization must be socially regulated and cannot be left to
free market forces.
Without water, there is no life. Humans and all living things have the right
to water, but water also has rights. All States and peoples worldwide
should work together in solidarity to ensure that loss of vegetation,
deforestation, the pollution of the atmosphere and contamination are
prevented from continuing to alter the hydrological cycle. These cause
desertification, lack of food, temperature increase, sea level rise,
migrations, acid rain, and physical-chemical changes that could provoke
the loss of genetic and species diversity, damaging the health of
Forests are essential to the balance and integrity of planet Earth and a key
element in the proper functioning of its ecosystems and the broader
system of which we are a part. Thus we cannot consider them as simple
providers of goods and services for human beings. The protection,
preservation and recuperation of forests is necessary in order to
reestablish the balance of the Earth system. Plantations that are planted
for profit and promoted as carbon sinks and providers of environmental
services are not forests. Forests are not plantations that can be reduced to
their capacity to capture carbon and provide environmental services.
Native forests and woodlands are essential for the water cycle, the
atmosphere, biodiversity, the prevention of flooding, and the preservation
of ecosystems. Forests are also home to indigenous peoples and
communities. The preservation of forests should be pursued through
integral and participatory management plans that should be financed with
public funding from developed countries or specific taxes on the sectors
with the greatest consumption.
It is essential to guarantee a real and effective reduction of greenhouse
gases, particularly on the part of the developed countries historically
responsible for climate change, in order to stabilize the increase in
temperature to 1°C during this century. We must therefore strengthen the
Kyoto Protocol with a second period of commitments by developed
countries, instead of replacing it with a more flexible voluntary agreement.
It is necessary to eliminate carbon market mechanisms and offsets so that
real domestic reductions are made within the countries with said
obligations. South Africa should not be another Cancun, delaying once
again the central issue of substantive reductions in greenhouse gas
All forms of violence against women are incompatible with sustainable
development. Violence done to women in militarily occupied territories,
domestic or sexual violence, and discrimination in the workplace and in
public spheres are problems we must solve. We must link the issue of the
economic role of women to the protection of nature.
In order for sustainable development to exist, it is essential to guarantee
the full application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Under the framework of common but differentiated responsibilities
established in the 1992 Rio Declaration, the so-called developed countries
must assume and pay their historical ecological debt for having
contributed the most to the deterioration of the Earth system. The payment
of this ecological debt by developed countries to developing countries and
the sectors most affected among their own populations should replace to
the greatest possible degree the ecological damage provoked. Developed
countries should transfer financial resources from public sources and also
the effective transfer of socially and ecologically appropriate technologies
required by sovereign developing countries.
The enormous resources dedicated to defense, security and war budgets
by developed countries should be reduced. These resources should
instead be used to address the effects of climate change and the
imbalance with nature. It is inexcusable that 1.5 trillion dollars in public
funding are used on these budgets, while, to address the impacts of
climate change in developing countries, they want to dedicate just 100
billion dollars from public and private funds as well as market sources.
A financial transaction tax should be created to help build a Sustainable
Development Fund to attend to the sustainable development challenges
faced by developing countries. This financing mechanism should generate
new, stable and additional resources for developing countries. A tax of
0.05% applied on a global level has the potential to capture $661 billion
per year according to ECLAC. The mechanism of the international
financial transaction tax can be built in a voluntary and gradual manner
with the participation of those developed and developing countries that
wish to participate.
The Rio+20 Conference should not create market mechanisms with
regard to nature, biodiversity and the so called environmental services: a)
The logic of the market and monetary valuation applied to environmental
services and biodiversity will generate greater inequality in the distribution
of those resources, which are essential for humanity and Mother Earth; b)
The establishment of these market mechanisms will deepen the
imbalance with nature because they are driven by the search for
maximum profits and not harmony with nature; c) It will affect the
sovereignty of our States and peoples by generating new forms of
property rights over the functions of nature that will be in the hands of
investors. These mechanisms are uncertain, volatile and the source of
financial speculation given that the bulk of the money they mobilize will
remain in the hands of intermediary actors.
Sustainable development requires a new international financial
architecture to replace the World Bank and the IMF with entities that are
democratic and transparent, that respect national priorities and national
independence in the application of development strategies. These new
institutions should have a majority representation by developing countries
and should act according to the principles of solidarity and cooperation,
rather than commercialization and privatization.
It is essential to create an effective Technology Transfer Mechanism that
stems from the demand and needs of the countries of the South for
technologies that are socially, culturally, and environmentally appropriate.
Said mechanism should not be a ?show room? for the sale of technologies
by rich countries. In order to promote the exchange of scientific and
technical knowledge, it is essential to remove intellectual property barriers
so that there might exist a true transfer of environmentally friendly
technologies from developed countries to developing countries.
Intellectual property rights over genes, microorganisms and other forms of
life are a threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, access to medicine and
other elements that are essential for the survival of low-income
populations. All forms of intellectual property over life should be abolished.
Gross Domestic Product is not an adequate means of measuring the
development and wellbeing of a society. Thus it is necessary to create
indicators for measuring the environmental destruction caused by certain
economic activities in order to advance toward sustainable development in
harmony with nature, integrating social and environmental aspects that
are not aimed at the commercialization of nature and its functions.
Respect for the sovereignty of States is essential in the management and
protection of nature under the framework of cooperation among States.
No identical solutions exist for all peoples. Human beings are diverse. Our
peoples have their own unique cultures and identities. To destroy a culture
is to threaten the identity of an entire people. Capitalism attempts to
homogenize us all to convert us into consumers. There has not been, nor
will there ever be, a single model for life that can save the world. We live
and act in a pluralistic world, and a pluralistic world should respect
diversity, which is itself synonymous with life. Respect for peaceful and
harmonious complementarity among the diverse cultures and economies,
without exploitation or discrimination against any single one, is essential
for saving the planet, humanity, and life.
Peace is essential for sustainable development. There is no worse
aggression against humanity and Mother Earth than war and violence.
War destroys life, and it has a particularly strong impact on the poorest
and most vulnerable. Nobody and nothing is safe from war. Those that
fight suffer, as do those that are forced to go without bread in order to feed
the war. Wars squander life and natural resources.
An International Tribunal of Environmental and Climate Justice must be
established to judge and sanction crimes against nature that transcend
national borders, violating the rights of nature and affecting humanity.
To achieve sustainable development, it is necessary to promote public
associations, public-public associations among actors in different States,
public-social associations among different social sectors, and publicprivate
The problems affecting humanity and nature require the exercise of global
democracy through the development of mechanisms of consultation and
decision-making such as referendums, plebiscites, or popular
consultations so that the citizens of the world as a whole may speak.
Sustainable development is incompatible with all forms of imperialism and
neocolonialism. In order to stop imperialism and neocolonialism, it is
essential to end the imposition of conditionalities, military interventions,
coups and blackmail.
The collective global response that is needed to confront the crisis we face
requires structural changes. We must change the system ? not the climate
or the Earth system. In the hands of capitalism, everything is converted
into merchandise: water, earth genomes, ancestral cultures, justice, ethics
and life. It is essential to develop a pluralistic system based on the culture
of life and harmony among human beings and with nature; a system that
promotes sustainable development in the framework of solidarity,
complementarity, equity, social and economic justice, social participation,
respect for diversity, and peace.
IV. THE GREEN ECONOMY AND ITS DANGEROUS AND FALSE SOLUTIONS
At a global scale, the supposed objective of the Green Economy of
disassociating economic growth from environmental deterioration is not
viable. Those that promote the Green Economy promote a threedimensional
capitalism that includes physical capital, human capital, and
natural capital (rivers, wetlands, forests, coral reefs, biological diversity
and other elements). For the Green Economy, the food crisis, the climate
crisis and the energy crisis share a common characteristic: the failed
allocation of capital. As a result, they try to treat nature as capital ?
The Green Economy considers it essential to put a price on the free
services that plants, animals and ecosystems offer to humanity in the
struggle for the conservation of biodiversity, water purification, pollination
of plants, the protection of coral reefs and regulation of the climate. For
the Green Economy, it is necessary to identify the specific functions of
ecosystems and biodiversity and assign them a monetary value, evaluate
their current status, set a limit after which they will cease to provide
services, and concretize in economic terms the cost of their conservation
in order to develop a market for each particular environmental service. For
the Green Economy, the instruments of the market are powerful tools for
managing the ?economic invisibility of nature.?
One of the examples most cited by the Green Economy is the initiative
known as REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Forest
Degradation), which consists of isolating and measuring the capacity of
the forest to capture and store carbon dioxide in order to issue certificates
for greenhouse gas emissions reductions that can be commercialized and
acquired by companies in developed countries that cannot meet their
mitigation commitments. In this way, the developing countries will end up
financing the developed countries.
It is wrong to attempt to fragment nature into ?environmental services? with
a monetary value for market exchange. We should not put a price on the
capacity of forests to act as carbon sinks, nor promote their
commercialization as does REDD. The market for carbon credits based on
forests will lead to: a) noncompliance with effective emission reduction
commitments by developed countries; b) the bulk of resources being
appropriated by intermediaries and financial entities and rarely benefitting
countries, indigenous peoples and forests themselves; c) the generation of
speculative bubbles based on the sale and purchase of said certificates;
and d) the establishment of new property rights over the capacity of
forests to capture carbon dioxide, which will clash with the sovereign rights
of States and the indigenous peoples that live in forests. The promotion of
market mechanisms based on the economic needs of developing
countries is a new form of neocolonialism.
The postulates promoted under the Green Economy are wrong. The
current environmental and climate crisis is not a simple market failure. The
solution is not to put a price on nature. Nature is not a form of capital. It is
wrong to say that we only value that which has a price, an owner, and
brings profits. The market mechanisms that permit exchange among
human beings and nations have proven incapable of contributing to an
equitable distribution of wealth. The Green Economy should not distort the
fundamental principles of sustainable development.
Not all that glitters is gold. Not all that is labeled ?green? is environmentally
friendly. We must use the precautionary principle and deeply analyze the
different ?green? alternatives that are presented before proceeding with
their experimentation and implementation.
Nature cannot be subject to manipulation by new technologies without
consequences in the future. History shows us that many dangerous
technologies have been released in the market before their environmental
or health impacts are known, or before their social and economic impacts
on poor people and developing countries are understood. This is currently
the case with genetically modified organisms, agrochemicals, biofuels,
nanotechnology, and synthetic biology. These technologies should be
Geoengineering and all forms of artificial manipulation of the climate
should be prohibited, for they bring the enormous risk of further
destabilizing the climate, biodiversity and nature.
It is necessary to create public and multilateral mechanisms within the
United Nations to evaluate in an independent manner and without conflict
of interest the potential environmental, health, social, and economic
impacts of new technologies before they are spread. This mechanism
must involve transparency and social participation by potentially affected
?Green? capitalism will bring about natural resource grabbing, displacing
humanity and nature from the essential elements needed for their survival.
The drive for profit, instead of reestablishing harmony within the system,
will provoke even greater imbalances, concentrations of wealth, and
V. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR SUSTINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The institutional architecture of the United Nations for sustainable
development should establish a structure to promote balanced and equal
treatment of the three pillars: the economic, social, and environmental.
This institutional architecture should articulate and coordinate the different
authorities involved in order to avoid overlapping efforts and achieve
The Economic Pillar should determine the sustainable development
agendas of economic and commercial organizations such as the WTO,
the World Bank and IMF. Without an effective integration among these
entities, the institutional framework will be unable to define the economic
policies necessary to achieve sustainable development while respecting
national priorities and national independence and with transparent and
socially acceptable management.
The Social Pillar should coordinate entities such as ILO, WHO, UNESCO,
UN-Women, the Indigenous Permanent Forum and others in order to
improve their actions and impacts in the struggle for the eradication of
The Environmental Pillar should stem from a better coordination and
implementation of the different Conventions (UNFCCC, UNCCD, CBD)
and the incorporation of all environmental issues including water.
The coordination of these three pillars should be under the auspices of a
Council for Sustainable Development that is created on the basis of what
is now the Commission on Sustainable Development. It should be at the
level of a Council that would function as a subsidiary body of the General
Assembly, guaranteeing a fundamental role for States, coordinating with
the Economic and Social Council, and with regular functioning to follow up
on and implement the goals and mechanisms agreed and resolutions
Developing countries should have a majority representation in said
Council, and its functioning should be democratic and transparent.
The Council for Sustainable Development should include mechanisms for
the participation of civil society and non-governmental organizations
especially organizations representing workers, indigenous peoples,
farmers, small agricultural producers and fishermen, women, youth and
consumers. The private sector cannot have the same amount of influence
as the social sectors, given that, by definition, its goal is to create profit
rather than social wellbeing. The linking of the Sustainable Development
Council with the different social actors should occur through a