Why the Rio Magdalena?

The Rio Magdalena is Mexico City’s last and only free flowing river, from an original host of 45 living rivers. The Río Magdalena faces threats across various dimensions: flow, pollutants and chemical and pathogenic contaminants in addition to riverbed alteration and presence of hydraulic infrastructure (dams, diversion channels, pipelining of springs).  In addition to harming the river itself, the impacts of a polluted and threatened river ecosystem means more pressure on a fragile ecosystem that includes the Mexico City aquifer and forests in the Valley of Mexico.

Mexico City is a prime location for this campaign since the “rights of nature” was included within the City’s new constitution, which was formally approved in 2017. Recognition of legal rights for the river not only addresses the root cause of the decline of this ecosystem, but also brings together a wide range of special interest groups to address the complex and inter-related issues of this river and it’s surrounding ecosystem.

Overall, establishing rights for the Río Magdalena will help recover the health of the river and strengthen the surrounding ecosystem. In turn, this creates conditions for animals to return to the Río Magdalena. It also supports a new paradigm in which humans and nature can thrive together in Mexico. Stay tuned for two more rivers seeking legal rights.

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