If there is any time to focus on the positive it is now, with the news this week that humankind faces the double threat of extinction from climate change and AI. In that was the promise that we can still steer the course of our own fate. Some recent positive advances give hope for doing so. So, here is a roundup of the latest good environmental news.
First up is a story close to my heart. If you follow my research, you will know that my interest in Buen Vivir grew from living and working with communities in Ecuador’s Intag Valley, which have battled threats to their social and environmental wellbeing for decades. Part of the struggle was captured in my book through interviews with key people in Cotacachi County (where Intag is located). So, this victory has moved me to tears, and I hope it is the start of some positive momentum for the Rights of Nature.
- Rights of Nature upheld in Ecuador Court
Communities in Ecuador’s Intag Valley had a major win in March after more than 30 years of mining resistance in the region. On March 29, 2023, communities in the Intag Valley won a court case against mining companies Codelco and ENAM. The Imbabura Provincial Court ruled in favour of the Rights of Nature upheld in the Constitution since 2008 and revoked the companies’ mining licenses for the project. The win helps preserve the natural integrity of the Tropical Andes and upholds local communities’ constitutional right to consultation. The victory also expands the case law for the Rights of Nature and sets a precedent for future cases. It also demonstrates the willingness to uphold the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and rural communities in the face of extractivism demand.
2. Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has fallen by 68 percent
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon fell 68 percent in April compared to April 2022. One of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva presidential promises when taking office at the start of this year was to combat illegal deforestation, which rose significantly under former President Jair Bolsonaro.
3. Ecuador’s ‘debt for nature’ deal to help protect the Galápagos Islands
To Ecuador again, as the country has converted $1.6 billion (€1.5 billion) of debt into a loan to be used for conservation in the Galápagos Islands in the world’ biggest ‘debt for nature’ deal.
“The world’s biggest ocean-friendly debt swap is coming together in Ecuador to protect its unique natural resources,” says Pablo Arosemena Marriott, Minister of Economy and Finance.
4. Renewables to hit a major milestone
The renewable power sector is passing a series of important positive tipping points in 2023. Thinktank Ember’s fourth annual Global Electricity Review has found that greenhouse gas emissions from the global power sector are expected to fall for the first time because an expansion in renewable energies outstrips the growth in demand. The report analyses data from 78 countries representing 93% of global power supply. Not only that but experts predict that new solar and wind generation will become cheaper than existing fossil fuel generation.
5. Australia’s first Regenerative Food and Farming Map
Non-for-profit organisation Sustainable Table has developed Australia’s first Regenerative Food and Farming map. Regenerative agriculture helps mitigate the environmental impacts of farming and food systems. According to the Climate Council, Australian agriculture is responsible for around 13% of our greenhouse gas emissions each year. The map is a ‘first of its kind’. Taken from the website Sustainable Table state that the “map gives visibility across the industry, allows for connection and collaboration in ways never before possible, and catalyses the transformation of food and farming systems in Australia.” This also has public advantage “Connecting regenerative change makers, ethical funders and conscious humans to change Australia’s farming, food and fibre systems”. CEO of Sustainable Table Jade Miles said. “Until now there hasn’t been a national map or database of Australia’s regenerative food and farming industry…There is huge potential to learn from each other, leapfrog failures and grow the regenerative agriculture movement, and the map will play a really important role in facilitating this.” Agricultural change-makers and growers can add their businesses to the map for free by filling out the Australian Regenerative Food and Farming Map application: https://www.sustainabletable.org.au/map.