The Bolivian Example: How WILPF Can Work for Water and a Clean Earth

Dignity and Defiance, Co-Editors: Jim Shultz and Melissa Crane Draper. Published by The Democracy Center

By Nancy Price and Theta Pavis

The First People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth recently took place in Bolivia. Yet this historic conference was also a reminder that the work for a healthy planet, and clean drinking water for everyone, is far from over.

During the gathering in Bolivia, activists also held a water conference, Feria Internacional del Aqua, which featured an outdoor fair where villagers showcased the work of local water councils. The fair included food, information about water-related organizations and a number of workshops.

This 3rd International Water Fair in Cochabamba, Bolivia, marked the breaking of a contract with the global private water firm, Bechtel, 10 years ago. The anniversary event honored the successful win of the so-called “Water Wars” that took place in Bolivia.

What Can WILPFers Do?
The Declaration  that was passed at this conference is critical for WILPF members to study closely. The WILPF Water Issues Committee encourages our members to work in their own communities to pass similar declarations and to rally behind this call for change.  Click here to view and download the Declaration as a Word document

Let’s not forget: In 2008 Ecuador rewrote its constitution to include a Bill of Rights of Nature, mirroring the “Rights of Nature” ordinances now passed by many communities here in the U.S., including in New Hampshire, Maine, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

What is Mother Earth Day?
Under the leadership of Bolivian President Evo Morales and Pablo Salon (Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations), the U.N. General Assembly last year declared April 22 International Mother Earth Day.

Speaking before the General Assembly on that day, Morales called on the U.N.  to develop a Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth to “enshrine the right to life for all living things; right to regeneration of the planet’s bio-capacity; right to a clean life – for Mother Earth to live free of contamination and pollution; and the right to harmony and balance among and between all things.”
Then, after the failure of climate talks in Copenhagen, Morales launched his invitation to the world to come to Bolivia for the First People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba.

Learn More
* Want to hear activist Jim Shultz talk about the situation in Bolivia? Check out this recent interview on Democracy Now!

* For an interesting blog about the meetings in Bolivia that’s filled with terrific photography, check out:
http://www.staticphotography.com/blog/kk/world-peoples-conference-climate-change-and-rights-mother-earth

Nancy Price is a member of WILPF’s Water Issues Committee and can be contacted at: nancytprice@juno.com. Theta Pavis is the editor of WILPF’s magazine Peace & Freedom as well as WILPF’s e-Newsletter.

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PHOTO NOTE
Cover of book jacket, Dignity and Defiance, Co-Editors: Jim Shultz and Melissa Crane Draper. Published by The Democracy Center www.democracyctr.org

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