International Focus: Shifting the Dialogue

In addition to working with communities in the United States to pass laws recognizing rights of nature, we work with climate justice and social and environmental justice allies to build a global movement to support rights of nature at the local, national and international level; and helped found the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

World People's Conference
In April 2010, less than two years after Constitutionally recognizing nature’s rights in Ecuador, 35,000 people gathered for the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Global Exchange was there, and Community Rights Director Shannon Biggs spoke on the President’s Panel on Rights of Nature before 2,500 people, and broadcast worldwide. 
Led by indigenous communities of Latin America, the Conference produced a People’s Agreement, affirming the thought and practices of “Living Well,” recognizing Mother Earth as a living being with which we have an indivisible, interdependent, complementary and spiritual relationship.
Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth
The proposed Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, a companion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is a key outcome of the conference, and an important step forward for building an international movement that links culture and law together. 
Global Alliance for the Rights of Mother Earth
In September 2010, Global Exchange was part of a groundbreaking International Gathering for Rights of Nature, which met in Patate, Ecuador.  The gathering included individuals and organizations from four continents who have worked to promote the recognition of Rights of Nature. Participants traveled from South Africa, the United States, Australia, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador to participate.  They recognized the unique opportunity to further galvanize the momentum of Ecuador’s recent adoption of  Rights of Nature in its Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth from the People’s Conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and growing community developments in the United States.  Out of this four-day meeting, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature was formed. 
UN COP16 Climate Talks - Incorporating Nature's Rights
During the final day of the 2010 UN COP 16 Climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke eloquently about the need for a radically new path forward for all peoples and the role of the United Nations in illuminating the destiny of this new global journey:  “In past decades, the United Nations approved human rights, then civil rights, economic and political rights, and finally a few years ago indigenous rights. In this new century, it is time to debate and discuss rights of Mother Earth. These include the right to regenerate biocapacity, the right to life without contamination…”  Global Exchange was there to present our report, Does Nature Have Rights? Transforming Grassroots Organizing, which was co-produced with the Council of Canadians and Fundacion Pachamama. Click here to download the report.
The Rights of Nature book makes "The Case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth


In April 2011, Global Exchange produced the book The Rights of Nature: The case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth with our partners the Council of Canadians and Fundacion Pachamama in preparation for the first ever dialogue at the UN General Assembly: “Harmony With Nature” the first step on a long road toward adoption of a Universal Declaration.
UN COP17 Climate Talks - Durban, South Africa
At the end of 2011 UN Climate Talks were held in Durban, the dirtiest city in all of South Africa. Some days the air is clouded with enough pollution to block out the sun. Like communities in the US and elsewhere, current laws cannot effectively stop corporate polluters.
Global Exchange, Desmond D'Sa, and The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), in collaboration with our international partners and community groups in Durban are working to put an end to these injustices through a global paradigm shifting approach to environmental law - recognizing the rights of residents and nature. We helped to organize actions in Durban during the climate talks that showcased to the world what community-based solutions for climate change with respect to the rights of nature look like.
  • Download the Call to Action flyer for the Durban community HERE

  • Find out what happened at the COP17 conference in Durban! Click HERE to read the report back from Durban written by Shannon Biggs.

Greed Economy or Rights of Nature Now? Global Exchange joins our international allies at the Rio+20 United Nations Earth Summit

This June, we joined our international allies at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in Brazil to advocate for recognizing Rights of Nature as an alternative cultural and legal framework to the official corporate-led ‘Green Economy’ agenda being put forward by the UN at the summit.


A series of organizing events and strategy meetings were held throughout the week (both inside the conference and outside as part of the People’s Summit) to explore why a new framework for protecting the planet is necessary and part of a broader shift emerging globally today. 

On Sunday, June 17th a major signing event of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth was held at the Rio Centro along with a panel of distinguished international activists. Download the signing event flyer here.


New Report on the Rights of Nature

Just in time for the Rio+20 Earth Summit Global Exchange announced the release of a new report, "RIGHTS OF NATURE: Planting Seeds of Real Change." This report takes a look at the flaws behind the Green Economy agenda, advocates for a rights-based framework to challenge the commodification and financialization of nature, and explores how Rights of Nature can be applied as a new legal framework that allows for true protection of the environment.

The report includes articles from leading activists such as former UN Ambassador to Bolivia Pablo Solon, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Alberto Acosta, and many more. View and download the report here.

To purchase a $10.00 hard copy of the report, please contact Kylie Nealis at (415)-575-5551 (


System Change, Not Climate Change

The Council of Canadians recently launched a new website: System Change, Not Climate Change The project is about bringing forward an array of voices to talk about why and how we can revision our economies and societies to put the interests of people and the environment first. The project aims to build awareness and inspire actions for climate justice in Canada and around the world through the organizing of community-based teach-ins using videos on different issues.

The website features a section on Rights of Nature; including video interviews with Shannon Biggs of Global Exchange, Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Maude Barlow from the Council of Canadians. Watch the interviews HERE.


The movement for the Rights of Nature is growing with more communities and countries taking up the charge.


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