In 2018 at the IUCN in Quito, Ecuador, the Indigenous Kichwa People of Sarayaku presented a proposal to attain national and international recognition for Kawsak Sacha (the Living Forest), as a new legal category of protected area that would be considered Sacred Territory and Biological and Cultural Patrimony of the Kichwa People in Ecuador (1).
The proposal is based in both an indigenous worldview and the rights of Nature enshrined in the Ecuadorian Constitution, stating that “our proposal emphasizes that in order to extend rights to Nature, one must first recognize its entities as persons (and not mere objects). As persons, the beings of the forest relate to one another as well as to the Indigenous People that share their land. So, based on our continuous life together with the beings of the forest, Kawsak Sacha emerges as an authentic way of guaranteeing the Rights of Nature in those spaces that have not yet been decimated.” (2).
Ultimately, the message of the proposal is encouraging the world community to reflect on the inextricable relation between Human Rights and the Rights of Nature and how Sumak Kawsay (Buen Vivir, “Good Living”) can be the foundation for a more sustainable economic life that is more respectful of Mother Earth (2).
It concludes by urging the world “to make an effort to achieve a real metamorphosis (tiam)”—a shift away from the development paradigm that treats nature as material resource towards this alternative model of Kawsak Sacha (3).