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Barlow addresses the UN on harmony with nature

Barlow speaking at the United Nations

Barlow speaking at the United Nations. Photo by Meera Karunananthan.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow spoke about harmony with nature today at a United Nations plenary session presided over by UN General Assembly president Sam Kahamba Kutesa.

Barlow tweeted this morning, “At UN General Assembly. High level panel on the rights of nature. Excellent statements from president and secretary general.”

In her speech, Barlow stated, “In our world, nature is seen as a form of property, a resource for our pleasure, convenience and profit. The legal systems in most of our countries are not protecting the earth because they are not meant to. In fact, our legal and political establishments perpetuate, protect and legitimize the continued degradation of the earth by design, not accident. Most laws to protect the environment and other species just regulate the amount of damage that can be inflicted by human activity. Harmony with nature recognizes that our current form of industrial development is doing untold harm to the earth and calls for laws that allow other species to fulfill their evolutionary role on the planet.”

She further explained, “Harmony with nature requires us to create human laws and governance systems that promote both human health and well-being and the well-being of the wider ecological community. Harmony with nature would have us develop laws and policies that put the protection of air, soil, water, wetlands, forests and other species at the centre of all practices and policies and judge everything – from the way we grow food and produce energy to global economic and trade policy – by their impact on the natural world.”

Barlow highlighted, “For the post -2015 development agenda to reach its objective of being just, people-centred and sustainable, the goals must prioritize – for present and future generations – the human right to water for health, life, food and culture over other demands on water resources, especially industrial consumption. The goal must promote a hierarchy of water use the prioritizes basic human needs, local consumption, and healthy ecosystems, setting a zero target on freshwater extraction beyond sustainable supply and protecting and restoring aquifers and watersheds.”

And she concluded, “As the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] process prepares to set the foundation for international development over the next 15 years, it must decide whether development funds and strategies will promote human rights, alleviate poverty and protect Mother Earth or whether the development agenda will be used to open new markets and give even greater corporate access to endangered natural resources. Mother Earth is calling on us to do take the right path.”

Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan accompanied Barlow to the United Nations. She notes, “The president of the General Assembly, a representative of the Secretary-General, the Bolivian ambassador and an impressive number of member states are gathered here.”

To read Barlow’s full speech to the UN, please click here.