“We recognize that planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that “Mother Earth” is a common expression in a number of countries and regions, and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development.”
In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 22 April as International Mother Earth Day. In so doing, Member States acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are our common home, and expressed their conviction that it is necessary to promote Harmony with Nature in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations. The same year, the General Assembly adopted its first resolution on Harmony with Nature.
The General Assembly has widely acknowledged that the world’s depletion of natural resources and rapid environmental degradation are the result of unsustainable consumption and production patterns which have led to adverse consequences for both the Earth and the health and overall well-being of humanity. The scientific community has well documented evidence that our present way of life, in particular our consumption and production patterns, has severely affected the Earth’s carrying capacity.
Loss of biodiversity, desertification, climate change and the disruption of a number of natural cycles are among the costs of our disregard for Nature and the integrity of its ecosystems and life-supporting processes. As recent scientific work suggests, a number of planetary boundaries are being transgressed and others are at risk being so in a business-as-usual world. Since the industrial revolution, Nature has been treated as a commodity that exists largely for the benefit of people, and environmental problems have been considered as solvable through the use of technology. In order to meet the basic needs of a growing population within the limits of the Earth’s finite resources, there is a need to devise a more sustainable model for production, consumption and the economy as a whole.
Devising a new world will require a new relationship with the Earth and with humankind’s own existence. Since 2009, the aim of the General Assembly, in adopting its five resolutions on ‘Harmony with Nature’, has been to define this newly found relationship based on a non-anthropocentric relationship with Nature. The resolutions contain different perspectives regarding the construction of a new, non-anthropocentric paradigm in which the fundamental basis for right and wrong action concerning the environment is grounded not solely in human concerns. A step in this direction was further reaffirmed in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (2012), entitled “The future we want”: