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Panama is a country with a wide range of biodiversity. Now, the first lady of Panama, Congressman Juan Diego Vásquez Gutiérrez and biologist Callie Veelenturf have proposed to give nature rights.
In 2020, Veelenturf, Vásquez, his advisors together with the Earth Law Center proposed that the rights of nature are to “exist, persist and regenerate” and that this should be legally recognized. In late February of this year (2022), Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo signed the Rights of Nature into Panama's laws.
Here is a list of The Rights of Nature from EcoWatch:
- Acknowledges Nature’s rights to exist, persist, and regenerate life cycles.
- Requires the state and all individuals, citizens and non-citizens alike, to respect nature.
- Guarantees Nature representation to have its interests fought for in a court of law.
- Creates a framework that improves the legal and judicial means, resources, and arguments available to environmental lawyers and activists.
- Changes the official Panamanian relationship with Nature from one of superiority and otherness to one of interconnection and interdependence.
- Removes anthropocentric assumptions, creating legal principles such as in dubio pro natura, meaning “when in doubt, side with Nature.”
- Establishes that the world view and ancestral knowledge of Indigenous peoples must be an integral part of interpreting and applying the Rights of Nature.
- Furthers Panama’s defenses against the climate crisis.
These laws means that any new decision or action by the state, companies or individuals have to be in line with the new nature law. Now, the next step will be legal action and changes making sure that companies and state entities are aligned with the new law.
It’s not only Panama who have enacted laws regarding nature. Bolivia, Ecuador, Uganda and Chile all have similar legislations. Many other countries are working towards joining them as well.
Lastly, the public will be educated to learn about their new power and duty to defend nature. The new law will make it easier for individuals to bring cases against corporations and countries in order to protect our home, Mother Earth.