Welcome to the first virtual dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to commence on 22 April 2016, in commemoration of International Mother Earth Day, and to last for two months, closing on 22 June 2016.
This Dialogue follows and builds on five interactive Dialogues of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature that started in April 2010. The past Dialogues, which can be accessed by clicking here, act as a backdrop to understand the context of this current virtual dialogue.
On 24 December 2015, the General Assembly adopted its seventh resolution A/70/208 on Harmony with Nature to:
"Initiate, in 2016, a virtual dialogue on Harmony with Nature among, inter alia, experts on Earth jurisprudence worldwide, including those who have been active in the interactive dialogues of the General Assembly, in order to inspire citizens and societies to reconsider how they interact with the natural world in order to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in harmony with nature, noting that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development, and requests that the experts submit a summary to the General Assembly at its seventy-first session.”
A first step in recognizing the rights of nature took place at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. Heads of State and Government adopted the outcome document entitled “The future we want” (resolution 66/288, annex), in which they recognized that planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development. They also agreed that, in order to achieve a just balance among the needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote Harmony with Nature.
Earth Jurisprudence experts that participated in past UN Interactive Dialogues of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature, and those joining for the first time, recognize the intrinsic value of nature and the need to shift away our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours from an anthropocentric, or human-centered, worldview to a non-anthropocentric, or Earth-centered. Their work both theorize and implement strategies grounded in restoring an Earth-centered worldview. Within such a worldview, the Earth is no longer viewed as an object to exploit, but as a subject to be communed with and inspire us to reconsider how we interact with the natural world.
For this worldview to continue to grow, it will require support in laws, ethics, institutions, policies, and practices that have, at their core, a fundamental respect and reverence for the Earth and its natural cycles, and a clear understanding that the wellbeing of humankind is co-dependent on the wellbeing of the Earth.
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