Rights of Nature is a revolutionary and evolutionary concept, at the heart of which lies a key to addressing our horrifically dysfunctional economic system and the legal, social and political frameworks that are destroying people and planet.
–– from Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Rights-based law for Systemic Change
How did you feel about the violent storms moving through our area this summer? Were you impacted by flooding? Tornadoes? Fallen trees? Loss of electricity? Damage to your home or property? Damage to your native plant garden? This is just a preview of what’s to come if we don’t take immediate action to mitigate climate crisis.
Our legal systems have failed to prevent–and have actually fueled–climate disruption and ecosystem degradation. Most of the world’s laws treat nature as a resource to market, commodify and exploit without limit. Our rivers, forests and mountains are seen as objects to be sold and consumed. We’re now seeing the disastrous results of this way of thinking.
To avert the worst impacts of climate crisis and move towards truly sustainable living, the way we think about and relate to Nature must change. Rights of Nature law would stop human activities and development from interfering with ecosystem health.
Rights of Nature law is a worldwide phenomenon. In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to add a Rights of Nature law to their constitution. Since then, Bolivia, India, New Zealand, Panama, Colombia, Australia, Bangladesh, Uganda and Mexico also added Rights of Nature law to their constitutions.
Are you doubtful that our country would adopt a Rights of Nature law? You may be surprised to learn that Rights of Nature laws have been present in the US for decades. The world’s first community Rights of Nature law was enacted in 2006 by Tamaqua Borough, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, with the help of Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). In November 2010, the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, became the first major municipality in the United States to recognize Rights of Nature.
Nature would repair the damage we’ve done if we stop interfering with her ability to do so. We can learn from indigenous people, who know how to live in harmony with the Earth. Indigenous communities are at the forefront of the Right of Nature movement. They say the belief we are separate from Nature is at the root of our destructive relationship to the Earth.
For more information, visit Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN), a network of organizations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognize, respect and enforce Rights of Nature.