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An exemplary constitution that recognizes communities’ rights in natural resources management
Written by: Clara Jamart
Writing date: 2010
Organizations: Association pour contribuer à l’Amélioration de la Gouvernance de la Terre, de l’Eau et des Ressources naturelles (AGTER), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), The World Conservation Union (IUCN), The IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), CEESP Co-management Working Group (CEES-CWMG), Centre for Sustainable Development & Environment (CENESTA)
Type of document: Paper / Document for wide distribution
Borrini-Feyerabend Grazia, Pimbert Michel, Farvar M.Taghi, Kothari Ashish, Renard Yves et al, Sharing Power - Learning by Doing in Co-management of Natural Resources throughout the World, IIED, IUCN, CMWG, CEESP, 2004.
Sustainable natural resources management is before all a question of political choice. Some States, such as Ecuador, have decided to adopt a legislation that recognizes communities’ rights in natural resources management, and encourages the participation of local and/or indigenous communities in the definition of the policies that concerns their own territories.
Box 10.3. Extracts from the Constitution of Ecuador
Article 84. In accordance with the Constitution and with the law, respect for public order, and human rights, the state shall recognise and guarantee to indigenous peoples the following collective rights:
1.To maintain, develop and strengthen their spiritual, cultural, linguistic social, political and economic identity and traditions.
2.To protect the imprescriptible ownership of community land, which may not be alienated, confiscated or broken up, except by the state with its power to declare public utility. These lands will be exempt from payment of property tax.
3.To maintain ancestral ownership of community land, which will be freely awarded in accordance with the law.
4.To participate in the use, usufruct, administration and conservation of renewable natural resources found on their land.
5.To be consulted about any plans and programmes to prospect and exploit non-renewable resources found in their land, which may have an environmental or cultural impact on them. To share in the benefits accrued by these projects wherever possible, and to receive compensation for any social or environmental damage they may cause.
6.To conserve and promote their biodiversity and natural environment management practices.
7.To conserve and develop traditional ways of life, social organisation, and creation of exercising of authority.
8.As a people, not to be displaced from their land.
9.To have collective intellectual property rights over their ancestral knowledge, and to the valuation, use and development of these intellectual property rights according to the law.
10.To maintain, develop and administer their cultural and historical heritage.
11.To access quality education, and to an intercultural and bilingual education system.
12.To their traditional medical systems, knowledge and practices. This includes the right to protection of ritual and sacred sites, plants, animals, minerals and ecosystems of vital interest with regard to traditional medicine.
13.To decide on and prioritise plans and projects for the development and improvement of economic and social conditions, with adequate funding from the state.
14.To participate, through representatives, in official bodies determined by law.
15.To use symbols and emblems which identify them.