Waldmüller, Johannes M. “”Living Well Rather Than Living Better”: Measuring Biocentric Human-Nature Rights and Human-Nature Development in Ecuador.” The International Journal of Social Quality 5, no. 2 (2015): 7-28. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44174147.
In his article Living Well Rather Than Living Better: Measuring Biocentric Human-Nature Rights and Human-Nature Development in Ecuador, Johannes Waldmüller introduces a discourse on examining human rights issues through a comparative study of the relationships between humans, nature and development practices. The term anthropocentrism (to mean the prevalent focus of theories, projects, and policies on humans) is used to describe the way in which current approaches to development and political philosophies are taken today globally. Waldmüller argues that too much importance is being placed on the human aspect of human rights and instead we should be focusing on a biocentric (to mean all that grows and passes and the interactions between each mechanism) viewpoint.
From a biocentric viewpoint, life itself is a centerpiece for human rights conversation. The article delves into talking about this shift in perspective from anthropocentric to biocentric as one where instead of being focused on human well-being, we focus on human-nature well-being in constant interaction. Drawing from this ideal, Waldmüller proposes that national and regional economy (including their development policies) should be focused around this understanding of the ebb and flow between humans, nature and all life forms and processes.
A PhD graduate in Anthropology and Sociology in Development with an MA in both Intercultural Philosophy and International Development, Waldmüller discusses the attempts led by policymakers in Ecuador to make adequate human rights policies and lead development while becoming aware of a requirement to also assess the rights and presence of nature under the Buen Vivir doctrine. This approach is holistic in it’s attempt at bridging the various aspects of what it means to be alive and how to sustain a ‘good’ life- it takes all the key viewpoints in consideration and attempts at bringing them together.
In this article, Waldmüller explores the framework of Buen Vivir (the right to a good life) and argues for the consideration of human-nature in the practice of development that also seeks to improve the well-being, or quality of life, of a people. He notes the importance in understanding that different peoples (in this article, peoples of Ecuador) hold different views about what it means to have a good life. It is here that life-giving nature must be taken into account by policy-makers in Ecuador (and beyond) when approaching human development. The key points and arguments made in this article can be used cross-culturally to both develop a better understanding of the relationship between development and human livelihood of all peoples in a community and to analyze, in my own study of Mexico, how policy-makers can better approach these issues.
This image was taken from the Government of Ecuador’s website. I chose this image because of the banner’s connection of the Buen Vivir initiative/doctrine and the Secretary of National Planning and Development- it points to the clear connection between (human) development actions and the right to a good life.