On June 1, 2001 Global Exchange hosted it's 9th Annual Human Rights Awards in San Francisco, CA.
International Honoree Pablo Solon, Bolivian Ambassador to the United Nations confronts the challenge of climate change with a set of priorities and principles that often places him at odds with the rubber stamp diplomats of other nations. The message from Mr. Solon calls for addressing the root causes of the climate change crisis, creating binding agreements and climate debt repayment mechanisms and developing a framework for holistic, systemic change.
If he seems a little different than your typical diplomat, perhaps it is because of his background. Prior to his work representing Bolivia to the United Nations, Ambassador Solon was an activist working with indigenous people's movements, workers, unions, student associations and human rights organizations. He brings this framework to his role as the Bolivian representative to the UN climate negotiations, putting pressure on the countries most responsible for climate change to own up to their role in the crisis by shouldering a fair share of the burden of paying for its effects.
Aside from his role in climate negotiations, Pablo Solon has emerged at the forefront of the movement to radically change the relationship between humankind and nature. At the conclusion of the People's World Conference on Climate Change in 2010, the representatives assembled put forward the landmark People's Accord. This document, ratified by thousands of attendees to the conference in Cochabamba, calls attention to the need to recognize the fundamental rights of nature, creating a new cultural and legal framework to protect natural ecosystems from harm.
In the Cancun rounds of the United Nations Climate Conference, Ambassador Solon, on behalf of Bolivia, refused to sign the final accord, stating the document represented a giant step backwards, in that it replaced binding accords with voluntary pledges. At the same time he spoke to the need for global recognition of the Rights of Nature - international standards that afford rights and legal standing not just to individuals and businesses adversely affected by the exploitation and damage to natural resources, but to nature and ecosystems themselves. At the UN, Ambassador Solon played a key role in the introduction of draft text for a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, a companion piece to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, this past Earth Day, April 22nd.
Ambassador Solon has also served as Bolivian Ambassador for issues concerning Integration and Trade, investor-state dispute settlement, indigenous peoples rights, migration, water and the environment. Last July, Ambassador Solon joined the powerful group of countries that backed, and saw the passage of the UN resolution recognizing the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. He was the Secretary of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) during the Bolivian Presidency of that institution (from December 2006 to May 2008), and he served as President Evo Morales' delegate in the Strategic Reflection for South American Integration. He recently contributed to the Global Exchange co-produced book, Rights of Nature: The Case for A Universal Declaration for the Rights of Nature (2011).
Watch a video about Mr. Solon's work here:
More information on the book can be found here: