In January 2022, a legislator from Carchi Province submitted to Ecuador’s National Assembly a bill to establish protection for the páramo [moorland] ecosystems in Ecuador. The purpose of the bill is to recognize the páramos as strategic ecosystems and “establish guidelines that guarantee their conservation, integrity, preservation, restoration, sustainable use, generation of knowledge and limitations of dominion.” (7). The law also establishes provisions to guarantee justice for the traditional inhabitants of the moorlands, including “protect their natural patrimony, and to guarantee the right of the population to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.” (7). The páramo [moorlands] are “a fragile neotropical high mountain ecosystem, located between the upper limit of the Andean forest and the lower limit of the glaciers” that includes “formations of low forests and shrubs and wetlands such as rivers, streams, creeks, peat bogs, swamps, lakes and lagoons, among others” (8). The páramo of Ecuador are considered to be a natural ecosystem with one of the highest altitude in the world.
Although the bill does not expressly refer to the rights of nature, its text contributes significantly to provide the rights of paramo ecosystems with essential content, by regulating and exercising the rights of nature in the context of páramo ecosystems. In the explanatory memorandum the bill makes reference to Constitutional Court Ruling No. 1149-19-JP/21 (p 3), which recognized the rights of nature in Los Cedros Protected Forest and established that “the rights of nature protect ecosystems and natural processes for their intrinsic value”, throughout the national territory. In this judgment, the Court determined that:
“it would not be logical to affirm that the rights of nature, the right to water, and the human right to a healthy and balanced environment have validity only in protected areas and intangible zones. On the contrary, the obligations to protect these rights apply to public authorities throughout the national territory, and must therefore be analyzed in accordance with the Constitution and infra-constitutional norms when authorizing, restricting or regulating such extractive activities.” This indicates that the bill for protecting páramo ecosystems is intended to guide the protection of the rights of páramo ecosystems, as called for by Ecuador’s Constitution in Articles 71-73.
In May 2022 the bill was referred to the National Assembly’s Legislative Commission on Biodiversity for analysis. As of early 2023, the bill was still in the first debate. It will likely take a couple of years for it to pass all legislative procedures and become law.