The Caribbean island Aruba is looking to amend its constitution to recognize the inherent legal rights of nature to exist and regenerate, linking Mother Nature’s rights to those of humans for the very survival of the island.
“Without nature, there is no economy, no health, and no tourism,” states Aruba’s minister of nature, Ursell Arends. “If we don’t have those things, there is no Aruba, no us.”
Aruba is home to unique bird species like the multicolored Aruban parakeet. The island has mangroves, coral reefs, and rocky coasts where a wide variety of animals find shelter, like sea turtles and blue lizards. The push for such an amendment rises from concerns about the state of Aruba’s ecosystems. In a 2021 report, policy changes were recommended, including reforestation, investing in low-carbon technologies, and assessing the impact of environmental changes on citizens’ health. Indeed, the proposed amendment includes the right for residents to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, linking the nation’s ecological problems to the moral and legal imperative rights for the well-being of humans and nature to be protected. Should the amendment be successful, Aruba would become the world’s second country to constitutionally recognize the rights of nature after Ecuador whose rights of Mother Earth were enshrined in 2008.