The right of mother earth

[Leonardo Boff] Our future is in jeopardy. The interlinking of crises could create a tragedy.

There is no political formulation of the interests of humanity or mother earth that protects their nature and cultures. For centuries we have lived under the jurisdiction of nation states and their assorted forms of sovereignty and autonomy.But as all problems become increasingly global, this political model is proving incapable of offering the solutions needed by humanity and the planet as a whole.

The United Nations would be the right organisation to perform this function, but it is completely demoralised and the only part of it with real power is the Security Council, which is controlled by the veto-wielding, five major powers, led by the US.

There is no world social contract that sets global political practices, nor is there a collective reference to build consensus and settle conflicts. This is one of the reasons for the failure of international meetings on global affairs, like the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference or the World Trade Round in Doha.

Unique moment

This is a unique moment in history. Our common future is in jeopardy. The interlinking of crises, especially ecological, could create a humanitarian and environmental tragedy of staggering proportions that would demand urgent action on a global scale. The necessary precondition for such action is a common set of references, values, principles, and inspirations that provide an ethical and political foundation for the world community.

Today what must be saved is not the status quo but life itself and the system of the earth. This is the new central reality by which the major political paths to the future must be oriented. Aware of this urgency, the President of the UN General Assembly for 2008/2009 and ex-foreign minister of Sandinista Nicaragua, Miguel D’Escoto, after consulting a wide range of heads of state and other figures, resolved to create a draft of a ‘Universal Declaration of the Common Good of the Earth and Humanity’ that would complement the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

This document, which will be officially introduced at the International Climate Conference next April in Cochabamba, Bolivia, will present the most reliable data regarding modern cosmology.

Consider that the earth and humanity are part of a vast evolving universe and share the same destiny and constitute in all their complexity a single entity. The earth lives and behaves as a single self-regulating system made up of physical, chemical, biological, and human components that give rise to the production and reproduction of life, and for this reason it is our great mother and our common home. It is comprised of the sum of the ecosystems through which it generated a magnificent array of forms of complementary and interdependent life, sacred and unified,such that the human being, men and women, are the same as the earth, which speaks, thinks, senses, loves, cares for, and venerates.

Since the environmental crisis must be addressed at the global level, it is essential to clearly define the common good of the earth and humanity. This common good is universal and free to all.

It must include everyone, all people and peoples, and at the same time must be offered for free because it represents what is essential, vital, and irreplaceable for humanity and for earth itself.

The first common good is the earth itself, which is the condition for all other goods. It belongs to the universe, to itself, and to the totality of ecosystems that comprise it. Human beings are not its owners but guests because it is the generator of life itself and thus deserves to be treated with dignity and to be cared for and protected.

The biosphere is a common patrimony that humanity must protect. This is true for all natural resources: the air, water, fauna,flora,  microorganisms, and also the maintenance of the climate. For this reason climate change must be faced globally and recognised as a shared responsibility.

The common patrimony includes those public goods that maintain life, like food, seeds, electricity, the accumulated knowledge of people, research and science, culture,art, music, religion, health and security.

The second common good is humanity, with its intrinsic values of dignity, conscience, intelligence, sensibility, compassion, love and opening to all. Humanity appears as a project that is infinite and therefore unending.

Fecund concept

The fecund concept of the common good prohibits, for example, the patenting of genetic resources that are fundamental to food and agriculture; patented technical discoveries should always be managed with an eye towards their social application.

Central to the common good of humanity and mother earth is the conviction that a beneficent energy extends throughout the entire universe, sustains all living creatures, and can be invoked, welcomed, and venerated. (IPS)