The United Nations moved to make Earth Day a global holiday Wednesday in New York. The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted a resolution by Bolivian President Evo Morales to designate April 22 as “Mother Earth Day.” Attending the observances at the UN headquarters, Morales addressed the 192-nation body, saying the Earth has a “right to live.”

‘Not just human beings have rights, but the planet has rights,’ he continued. ‘What’s happening with climate change is that the rights of Mother Earth are not being respected.’

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22 in many countries of the world, was established in 1970 in the United States. The UN also recognizes the northern hemispheric spring equinox in March as World Environment Day.

The United Nations recognizes environmental protection in the face of global climate change as an urgent task. In 1992, the UN adopted climate goals in its Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. Morales believes international recognition of Earth Day is an important step to fulfilling the Rio Declaration, which acknowledges “the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home.”

The adoption of April 22 as International Mother Earth Day is a recognition of the fact that “the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance throughout our lives,’ according to General Assembly President Miguel D’escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua.

Morales had planned a public event in Harlem for the evening of the UN Earth Day commemoration but was forced to cancel at the last minute due to illness. Hundreds of supporters, who crowded a local church to hear his address, greeted the news with great disappointment. Someone from the crowd led a chant: “Que viva Evo Morales! Que viva Bolivia!” “Long live Evo Morales. Long live Bolivia!”