Bolivia is to become the first country in the world to give nature comprehensive legal rights in an effort to halt climate change and the exploitation of the natural world, and to improve quality of life for the Bolivian people.

Developed by grassroots social groups and agreed by politicians, the Law of Mother Earth recognises the rights of all living things, giving the natural world equal status to human beings.

Once fully approved, the legislation will provide the Earth with rights to: life and regeneration; biodiversity and freedom from genetic modification; pure water; clean air; naturally balanced systems; restoration from the effects of human activity; and freedom from contamination.

The legislation is based on broader principles of living in harmony with the Earth and prioritising the “collective good.” At its heart is an understanding that the Earth is sacred, which arises from the indigenous Andean worldview of ‘Pachamama’ (meaning Mother Earth) as a living being. An initial act outlining the rights – which was passed by Bolivia’s national congress in December 2010 and paves the way for the full legislation – defines Mother Earth as a dynamic and “indivisible community of all living systems and living organisms, interrelated, interdependent and complementary, which share a common destiny.”

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Museum Monday: Jim Dine’s The Garden of Eden (2003) will be featured in an upcoming exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBiA) in New York, Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden. The show, on view from June 27 through September 28, considers the Garden of Eden as a lens through which to view the relationship between humans and the natural world.

Crows in the Moonlight
Sakai Hōitsu (Japanese; 1761–1828) after Ogata Kōrin (Japanese; 1658–1716)
early 19th century
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, New Jersey