In 2009 Ecuador and Bolivia changed their constitutions to include the notion of Sumak Kawsay* and officially recognise nature as an entity in need of legal standing. Since then legal battles against extractive corporations have been won thanks to this change to their respective constitutions.
In 2009 the leaders of Ecuador and Bolivia also campaigned to the United Nations General Assembly to officially recognise April 22nd as International Mother Earth Day. This change might seem superfluous to some, seeing as Earth Day has been celebrated across the USA since 1970, yet words hold meaning and Ecuador and Bolivia’s leaders knew that.
Adding the word mother changes the entire relationship we hold with nature, acknowledging her importance, her nurturing role and our dependence on her health. All of a sudden we are not fighting for a rock we call Earth, which we can extract and exploit at our leisure, rather we are respecting Mother Earth’s intelligence, acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between all living things including with the planet we inhabit.
Bolivia and Ecuador gifted the world a word, but in reality they gifted the world their cosmovision. The climate is not in “crisis”, the west’s relationship with nature is. Shifting Earth Day to International Mother Earth Day was a subtle yet symbolic message to the West: heal your relationship with Mother Earth, listen to her and live in harmony with the natural world. That’s how we can really honor life, today and every day.