Throughout the conference, participants engaged in lively dialogue on the most important issues of the day.The event created networks of engaged citizenry and connected them to journalists, professors, organizers, and policymakers.The presentation was followed by questions from the webinar attendees, which centered around the speaker’s vision for the future of the Rights of Nature, the role that international courts can play, the results of actions by civil society groups in Yasuní and the characterization of the voluntarily isolated indigenous communities that live in the area.
In an effort to clarify the current status of the Rights of Nature in Ecuador, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (YCELP) invited Natalia Greene to its webinar series on “Democratizing Environmental Protection”, held on February 6 2015.
Natalia Green is an Ecuadorian environmental leader who played a monumental role in the adoption of the Rights of Nature in Ecuador’s National Constitution.
This Model, advocated by the Ecuadorian Government, includes Nature as a transversal component of its development apparatus.
For example, the Model is meant to guide the country’s development away from its heavy reliance on fossil fuels and natural resources and towards an economy that flourishes on the basis of knowledge, cultural richness and biodiversity capital.
And yet, most of this biodiversity is severely threatened by the expansion of human presence in natural areas.
More specifically, one of the major threats to the country’s biodiversity is the construction of roads that give access to oil and mineral reserves located in the heart of the country’s Amazon.
Sincere commitment to protect Nature’s right to persist and to be maintained should not be conditional to capricious human needs and desires.
Otherwise the concept of granting essential rights to Nature should be reconsidered in terms of the real capacity and willingness of the State to respect them.
Subsequently, Natalia recognized some instances in which the Rights of Nature were respected in Ecuador, even prior to the 2008 Constitution.
Examples include the Galapagos Vilcabamba road case and the shark finning prohibition in the Galapagos Islands.
In particular, Natalia referred to the case of Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve, an area that became globally recognized for its biodiversity and for the debate that originated around the conflicting interests of conservation and oil extraction inside the protected area.