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Reclaiming the Commons: Biodiversity, Indigenous Wisdom, and the Rights of Mother Earth

By Vandana Shiva

Foreword by Ronnie Cummins

Authored by world renowned activist and environmental leader Vandana Shiva, Reclaiming the Commons presents the history of the struggle to defend biodiversity and traditional practices against corporate biopiracy and details efforts to realize legal rights for Mother Earth and achieve the vision of the universal commons and Earth as Family.

“A powerful, deeply moving call to rethink the very way we understand life, including our own. We will protect and, ultimately—save—life on this planet only as we experience ourselves in relation to all—only as we move from the manufactured fear of scarcity to fall in love with the majesty our connectedness. Reclaiming the Commons is about reclaiming ourselves. I love this book.” Frances Moore Lappe

“If you ever wondered what a Saint would look like in our modern era, search no further.” — Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is a scholar, author, environmental activist, and food sovereignty advocate. Her pioneering work around food sovereignty, traditional agriculture, and women’s rights, particularly in the Global South, has created fundamental cultural shifts in how the world views these issues. She is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization (along with Jerry Mander, Edward Goldsmith, Ralph Nader, and Jeremy Rifkin), and a prominent figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, Spain’s Socialist Party’s think tank and the International Organization for a Participatory Society. She received the Right Livelihood Award in 1993, an honor known as an “Alternative Nobel Prize”. She has received numerous other awards and honors for her work including the “Save the World” award in 2009 and the Sydney Peace Prize in 2010. Shiva has authored more than twenty books and is currently in Delhi and in Dehradun, Uttaranchal at Navdanya, a community-based women-led organic farm, school, café, and farmer-collective founded by Dr. Shiva that promotes agroecology, seed freedom, and a vision of Earth Democracy, seeking justice for the Earth and all living beings.

Related: Vandana Shiva on ‘Becoming Untameable’ a podcast with For The Wild™


Reclaiming the Commons: In Defense of Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and the Rights of Mother Earth lays out the scientific, legal, political, and cultural struggle to defend the sovereignty of biodiversity and indigenous knowledge. Corporate war on nature and people through patents and corporate Intellectual Property Rights has unleashed an epidemic of biopiracy resulting in important legal battles fighting efforts to patent the rights to many plants, including basmati, neem, and wheat. The author presents details of the specific attempts made by corporations to secure these patents and the legal actions taken to fight them. The book goes beyond the legal struggle to position the necessary solutions to corporate control including the exploring the Rights of Nature and proposing a framework for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. It is the first detailed legal history of the international and national laws related to biodiversity and Intellectual Property Rights.

Additional information

Weight 1.125 lbs
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 2 in

Paperback, eBook

Pages 320


If you ever wondered what a Saint would look like in our modern era, search no further. Vandana Shiva has emerged as one of the globe’s most effective advocate for family farmers, the poor, safe, nutritious food, dignified communities, humane working conditions, democracy, and biodiversity. Her profound spiritual dimension forms the platform for her ideals, and gives her the resilience to withstand daily slanders, vilification, and censure from the global power centers. She risks her life, safety, and freedom in a fierce struggle against the Chemical Cartel; tyrannical governments and the homicidal corporations conspiring in tandem to privatize the commons, commoditize the planet, subjugate its people, and censor dissent. In her new book, Reclaiming the Commons, Vandana argues that “the commons”, the shared assets of community—air water, wildlife—form a social safety net for the poor, and provide the essential foundation stone for dignified, democratized, communities. Vandana brilliantly and pragmatically lays out the philosophical and logistical underpinnings of her battle to preserve the commons as public asset, and to protect them from privatization by the wealthy, authoritarian elite. — Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


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