Rights of Nature

Thank you for helping us start the conversation!

Community Rights Lane County is excited to continue this important conversation here in Lane County, and we thank you for contributing. Please visit the site often to stay up-to-date on the continuing conversation, as we start recognizing Nature’s Right to exist, and flourish!

You can continue the conversation through our Rights of Nature listserv. To sign-up, please email:  [email protected]

More on Rights of Nature:
A fundamentally different relationship between humankind and nature is necessary, one that reflects our dependence on nature and need to live in harmony with the natural world. This requires providing the highest legal protection, one that recognizes the rights of both humankind and nature to health and well-being. CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) is a pioneering leader in the effort to secure the rights of ecosystems – or the “rights of nature” – working to develop rights-based legal frameworks to protect the environment. CELDF has assisted communities in the U.S. and Ecuador in establishing the first rights of nature laws in the world, and is now working in the U.S., Nepal, India, and elsewhere to build on these successes.

 

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Rights of Nature

What would it mean to recognize the rights of nature?
It would mean making a fundamental shift to recognize that just as human beings have rights, all other beings (including our Mother Earth) have rights. It would mean that the health of the world in which we live will be a fundamental high priority in our culture, economy, and political system. It would mean that rights of nature will play a significant role in decisions that impact us all. It would mean re-defining nature, not as property, but an entity that has rights inherent to itself.

How to make rights of nature laws a reality?
Rights of nature laws by themselves can have real legal force but are weak if not connected to other system truths – corporate power and the lack of enforcement by our government & legal system.
For example, water is routinely extracted, commodified, and polluted by corporate and other human activities with little to no financial, civil, criminal, or moral accountability. This is unsustainable as all of life depends on clean water for survival. Until nature – including rivers, watersheds, and all waters – possess the legal right to exist and persist, there is no satisfactory legal mechanism to ensure that clean water is protected for all life.
This means a broader community rights approach is needed – one in which corporate behavior is controlled by the people when it attempts to violate the rights of nature. For that control to have the greatest strength, it must come from the rights of communities to be self-governing. Community rights will keep corporate power in check. This includes the ability to block state & federal preemption laws that allow corporations to override rights of nature and those of the community.

Rights of Nature in Action…

  • Number of communities in the United States recognizing nature’s rights: More than 30
  • Tamaqua Borough, Pennsylvania – 2007: First US community to adopt rights of nature law protection against sewage sludge and fly ash.
  • Ecuador – 2008: First country to constitutionalize rights of nature and to uphold those rights in court.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 2010: First US city to adopt rights of nature law protection against fracking.
  • Grant Township, Pennsylvania – 2016: First US community to have an ecosystem (Little Mahoning Watershed) intervene in a case against fracking wastewater company.
  • Ho-Chunk Nation – 2016: First Native American nation to vote to adopt rights of nature into a tribal constitution

Rights of Nature on the horizon
• Lake Erie Bill of Rights
• Rights of nature for the River Ganges in India
• Rights of nature for the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
• Rights of nature in Oregon – May 2017 ballot measures in Coos County against fossil fuels and Lincoln County against aerial spraying of pesticides.