The Rights of Nature is the recognition that the Earth and all her ecosystems are living being with inalienable rights: to exist, to live free of cruel treatment, to maintain vital processes necessary for the harmonious balance that supports all life. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world. It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined.
How can Rights of Nature be enforced?
The Rights of Nature can be enforced through the law. For millennia legal systems around the world have treated land and nature as “property”. Laws and contracts are written to protect the property rights of individuals, corporations and other legal entities. As such environmental protection laws actually legalize environmental harm by regulating how much pollution or destruction of nature can occur within the law. Under such law, nature and all of its non-human elements have no standing. By recognizing rights of nature in its constitution, Ecuador – and a growing number of communities in the United States – are basing their environmental protection systems on the premise that nature has inalienable rights, just as humans do. This premise is a radical but natural departure from the assumption that nature is property under the law.
Where can I see the latest Rights of Nature developments? You can visualize all of the latest Rights of Nature developments in our Rights of Nature timeline, located in our ‘Resources’ menu. There, we update all of the latest news on the movement.
- Panama signed Rights of Nature into national law. The law requires the state and all persons, whether natural or legal (such as corporations), to respect and protect Nature’s rights. (January 2022)
- Two Ecuadorian Rights of Nature activists won the Goldman Environmental Prize after winning a Rights of Nature case defending Ecuador’s Sinangoe territory from polluting mining projects. (April 2022)
- The Ponca Nation in the U.S. made history for the protection of water by unanimously adopting a new statute recognizing the Rights of Rivers for two rivers and other water bodies that flow through their territory, Ní’skà, (the Arkansas River) and Ni’ží’dè, (the Salt Fork River). (July 2022)
- Spain‘s senate voted to grant legal rights to Mar Menor, the largest saltwater lagoon in Europe, making it the first ecosystem in Europe to get legal Rights of Nature status. More than 640,000 people backed the campaign. (Sept. 2022)
In a landmark moment for protecting biodiversity, 190 governments have adopted a historic Global Biodiversity Framework in which the Rights of Nature are present and included. (December 2022)
Resources in English
The Case for The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth Cormac Cullinan, Download
If Nature Had Rights, What Would People Need to Give Up? Cormac Cullinan Download
Governing People as Members of the Earth Community, Cormac Cullinan, Download
Peoples Charter for Africa, Cormac Cullinan, Download
Los Derechos de la Naturaleza: Rights-Based Protection for Pachamama, Mari Margil, Download
Rivers and Natural Ecosystems as Rights Bearing Subjects, Robin R Milam, Download
Report from the Centre of the Earth, Lisa Mead – Earth Laws Alliance, Download
The Rights of Nature – Reconsidered, Peter Burdon, Download
Recogniting Rights for Nature in the Ecuadorian Constitution, Fundación Pachamama, Download
A Proposal For a Law of Mother Earth, Plurinatinational State of Bolivia, Download
Rights of Nature and an Earth Community Economy, Osprey Orielle Lake, Download
People’s Rights, Planet’s Rights: Holistic Approaches to a Sustainable Population, Suzanne York, Download
Being Nature – A European Citizens Inititative for Recognizing and Respecting the Inherent Rights of Nature, Mumta ItoDownload
Earth Rights: The Theory, Peter BurdonDownload
Exploring Wild Law, The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence, Peter BurdonDownload
Why should tress have legal rights? It’s second nature, María BandaDownload
Giving Nature a Voice, Living LawDownload
Comments on The Commons, Ben Price – CELDFDownload
Wildlaw Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence, Peter BurdonDownload
Rights of Mother Earth, CUNY Graduate Center live blog panel Earth Day 2011Download
Rights of Nature in Practice: Lessons from an emerging global movement, Anima Mundi Law InitiativeDownload
Various articles & reports:
International Rights of Nature TribunalSample of Existing Legal StructuresGlobal Exchange – Collections of articles about Rights of NatureNavdanya Publications on Seed Freedom GMOs and Farmers RightsEconomicsYasuni-ITTBoliviaEcuadorUniversal Declaration of Rights of NatureUnited Nations Nature ReportsVarious articles