Rio+20 and Custodians of Sacred Natural Sites

Dear all

You may remember that ‘The Future We Want’ was the theme of the Rio +20 Summit.

Disappointedly the majority of world leaders decided that our future lies on the continued commodificatiion of Nature as an economic service for humans.

However around the world communities and social movements are uniting to amplify the voice of Earth and all her children. They are calling for respect of Earth’s sacredness and of her rights to be, to flourish and to participate in the evolution of life.

Respect Our Sacred Earth

Recently Custodians of Sacred Natural Sites from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa met in Nanyuki, Kenya, to explore the deep meaning of our Sacred Earth and share their experiences of working with communities to revive their indigenous knowledge, practices and governance systems for protecting their Sacred Natural Sites. Sharing concerns of the growing threats to our Sacred Earth, the Custodians drafted a Statement of the Common African Customary Laws for the Protection of Sacred Sites, with support of partner organisations in the African Biodiversity Network.

This Statement provides important guidance on how Sacred Natural Sites should be recognised and respected as No-Go areas for any activity other than the expected spiritual practices. The Custodians remind us that: ‘Our generation living now has a responsibility like no other generation before us. Our capacity to stop the current addiction to money from destroying the very conditions of life and the health of our planet, will determine our children’s future.’

The Custodians invite you to share the Statement (next blog post) among your networks and especially with Custodians, so that people can understand about the deep meaning of Sacred Natural Sites and how they need to be respected as the living temples of indigenous cultures.

Respect Rights of Nature

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and others amplified the voice of Nature at the Rio+20 Summit, and presented over 116,700 signatures (and fast increasing) from 113 nations and 189 organisations, to the UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-Moon.

Please do sign the petition to help reach the goal of 1 million signatures and watch the panel discussion on the Rights of Nature here.

During the Rio Summit a glimmer of hope was the recognition of the need to live in harmony with Nature and paragraph 39 of the formal Rio+20 The Future We Want document acknowledged that some counties recognise the Rights of Nature. The Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth was also officially signed by advocates for Earth Law.

The United Nations has now established a website on Living in Harmony with Nature.

Do keep promoting the voice of Earth and all her children and do share any updates with the group.

Many thanks
best wishes
Carine Nadal

Earth Jurisprudence Resource Centre Coordinator and legal researcher
The Gaia Foundation
6 Heathgate Place
Agincourt Road
London NW3 2NU
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 20 74280053
Fax: +44 20 74280056

To the children, to all the children,
to the children who swim beneath the waves
of the sea, to those who live in the soils of the earth, to the children of the flowers in the meadows
and the trees in the forest, to all those children
who roam over the land and the winged ones who fly with the winds, to the human children too,
that all the children may go together into the future in the full diversity of their regional communities.

Thomas Berry, 1914-2009

The Gaia Foundation is very pleased to be able to share “Reviving Our Culture, Mapping Our Future”, a short film produced in collaboration with our partners the Mupo Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. Please visit to watch.

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