It is with great joy and a sense of deep accomplishment that my husband Bill and I recently returned from Ecuador. We spent nearly a year living and working with our indigenous partners and staff in Ecuador. This has clearly been the most incredible year of our lives, and I’d like to share some of the highlights.
As you may know, we are the co-founders of The Pachamama Alliance ( www.pachamama.org ). What has been happening in Ecuador, a small country on the equator, is historically unprecedented and will contribute to forging a new future on a global scale. It’s been an honor and privilege to participate.
In my next missive, I promise an update on an equally incredible year for the Soul of Money Institute, and to give you a preview of “coming attractions” for 2009.
Suffice it to say that these challenging financial times make the soul of money message all the more relevant, even urgent, as we take stock of what we do have and what is working well in our lives. There is no time like the present to remember the radical truth of sufficiency and that what we appreciate about our lives tends to grow or appreciate.
Now back to the highlights from Ecuador…
A GROUNDBREAKING NEW CONSTITUTION THAT GIVES RIGHTS TO NATURE
The Ecuadorian people under the leadership of President Rafael Correa, resoundingly approved a new constitution on September 28th. One of the most miraculous clauses gives LEGAL RIGHTS TO NATURE. No other country in the world has taken this bold stand. Indigenous people have always held that nature has rights. To see this worldview made manifest in constitutional law is a truly historic moment – and a profound legal precedent for the world.
TRANSFER OF THE KAPAWI ECO-LODGE TO THE ACHUAR AND LAUNCHING OF AVIATION SERVICE
As of January 1, 2008, the beautiful Kapawi Eco-lodge is now completely owned and managed by the Achuar people, with support from Pachamama staff in the US and Ecuador. The Achuar have a magnificent long-term vision- a stunning model for indigenous people throughout the Amazon. They also have launched an aviation service and recently acquired their own plane to shuttle visitors to the lodge.
YASUNI ITT PROJECT: “Keep the Oil in the Ground Where It Belongs”
The Ecuadorian Government has initiated a project called the Yasuni ITTProject, which has the possibility of transforming the energy matrix of all oil producing countries in the developing world. It is a project to preserve a large part of the central Ecuadorian rainforest. The initiative challenges the world community to compensate Ecuador for 50% of what oil companies would pay to extract one billion barrels of oil from this pristine rainforest territory-in exchange for Ecuador’s commitment to keep the oil in the ground forever.
The international campaign to support this courageous move was announced recently at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). We are honored to be in partnership with the Ecuadorian government in the design and promotion of this bold project.
BEYOND ECUADOR: ANDEAN PACT’S RIGHTS TO NATURE CLAUSES
Inspired by what has happened in Ecuador, the President of the Andean Pact – a European Union-like body of the Andes, has asked our Latin American foundation to work with fellow Andean Pact nations of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru to create “Rights to Nature” amendments for their constitutions. We have had the honor of playing a significant role in making this happen.
CHEVRON-TEXACO CASE: A TOXIC TOUR OF NORTHERN ECUADOR
My husband Bill and I recently took the “Toxic-Tour” of the Northern Ecuadorian forest where Texaco has been working for more than 40 years. It’s an experience that I’ll never forget. We witnessed firsthand the horrendous devastation – over 1,400 pits of crude oil waste as large as lakes scattered throughout the rainforest, towers of tall gas flames being burned off in the middle of an exquisite forest, and thousands of pipes running through and across rivers, leaking crude oil and toxic pollutants.
The rivers are black, the water tables are poisoned, and most people are sick. Huge numbers of rain forest dwellers have cancer, tuberculosis, and babies are born deformed. It’s the most tragic, unconscionable sight I’ve ever witnessed. And I’m more committed than ever to prevent this from happening again.
Indigenous people in the Lago Agrio region have brought a $16 billion case against Chevron, which purchased the oil fields from Texaco. It?s the largest environmental lawsuit in the world, which would force the companies to clean up the damage and compensate local people whose lives and environment have been severely compromised.
THE PACHAMAMA ANNUAL LUNCHEON, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2008
I hope that you will join us in San Francisco for the annual fundraising luncheon, which I promise will be OUR BEST ONE EVER BY FAR! Please visit www.pachamama.org for details.
SPECIAL BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT
I am so pleased to highly recommend a new book by my beloved colleague, Van Jones: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems. In his New York Times Bestseller, Van proposes elegant solutions for our economic and environmental crises. As Al Gore says, “Van Jones demonstrates conclusively that the best solutions for the survivability of our planet are also the best solutions for everyday Americans.” Please visit www.greenforall.org .
With love and appreciation for an incredible year,
For more information, please visit www.soulofmoney.org