The Rights of Mother Earth

As delegates from 192 governments gather at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico, over the next ten days, expectations are low to zero that the deliberations will yield any meaningful progress to a substantive international agreement to slow and prepare the world for warmer global temperatures.

In April this year a heartfelt appeal was made at a different gathering, in Cochabamba, Bolivia: the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. (Nat Geo News Watch: Bolivian Conference Chooses Mother Earth Over Father Time.)

“The Rights of Mother Earth” or “Los Derechos de la Pachamama” is a film that was created by Indigenous communities in Peru that wished to share their message about the Rights of Mother Earth. The nine-minute film was facilitated by filmmaker Maja Tillmann as a part of the Conversations with the Earth project, and was screened at the Cochabamba meeting.

The five communities that took part in making the film were: Perccapampa in the region of Huancavelica (Balvino Zavallos); Perka in Puno (Sabino Cutipa); Karhui and Queromarca in Cusco (Rosio Achahui); Chaka in Ayacucho (Pelayo Carrillo); and Cochas Grande in Junin (Irma Poma).

Conversations with the Earth (CWE) is an attempt to build a global movement for an indigenous-controlled community media network. CWE works with a network of indigenous groups and communities living in critical ecosystems around the world. Through CWE, these indigenous communities are able to share their story of climate change.

“Through the creation of sustainable autonomous indigenous media hubs in these regions, CWE fosters a long-term relationship with these communities, based on principles of local control and supporting indigenous media capacity,”according to CWE. 

InsightShare facilitated the creation of “The Rights of Mother Earth.” Based in the UK, Insightshare says it is the leader ”in the use of participatory video as a tool for individuals and groups to grow in self-confidence and trust, and to build skills to act for change.” Participatory video is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film.

To see more films and learn more about participatory video and the CWE Network, visit and

You may also want to read the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Changing Planet

Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn