Maria Esperanza Martínez Yáñez
- Date of investiture:
- 11th of November 2022
- Aitana de la Varga and Victor Merino Sánchez
- Area of knowledge:
Esperanza Martínez Yáñez (Equador, 1959), lawyer, biologist and human and environmental rights activist, will be awarded an honorary degree by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, sponsored by Aitana de la Varga and Victor Merino, researchers from the Department of Public Law.
In her career, she has combined research into the defence of environmental rights with the everyday practice of defending nature in the community. One of her most significant contributions has been the creation and promotion of the concept of the rights of nature, a key idea that has been used to reformulate not only law but also the budgets, policies and performance standards of all social agents because it implies that the nature has ceased to be a resource available to humans.
She has led several non-profit organisations for the defence of nature and the environment, one of the most important of which is Acció Ecològica. She co-founded this organisation in 1986 to defend the rights of people affected by industrial extractive activities, such as oil, mining, industrial farming and logging, and she has been its president on several occasions.
In 2001, she founded the Institute of Environmental Studies for the Third World, to promote the debate in the academy and establish networks between students and teachers. Subsequently she founded Red Oilwatch, an oil policy observatory in the countries of the south, with members from 45 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, which brings together all those affected by oil drilling.
She was also part of the Amazon for Life campaign, which campaigned for leaving crude oil in the subsoil of the Yasuní National Park (Ecuador) and which the government finally agreed to. As the leader of this campaign, she reported her own case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in October 2015 because, like many who defend environmental rights, she was the victim of violence.