It’s happening. The Rights of Nature movement is exploding as communities rise up around the world to demand a paradigm shift in our legal system’s relationship to the earth and her ecosystems.
So far in 2021, Rights of Nature has advanced in places including Oaxaca, Mexico, through a constitutional proposal; France, where a network of organizations has been launched; Canada, through sister law making by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit and the Minganie Regional County Municipality in northern Quebec to recognize the rights of the Magpie River; Rights of the Arkansas and the Salt Fork Rivers will be recognized in Ponca Tribal Law; and Minnesota, where Indigenous water protectors are opposing Line 3 to defend rights of wild rice. Campaigns and organizing are proliferating as we go to print.
Powerful corporate special interests are terrified. In late 2020 the American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a brief in opposition to a federal civil rights case in which CELDF is supporting local communities’ right to vote on qualified local Rights of Nature laws in Ohio. The same day, a bill was introduced in Missouri to try to ban Rights of Nature laws, an apparently desperate attempt to ward off the Rights of Nature uprising before it starts. (Tip to Missouri lawmakers: Ohio’s legislature did that too, and it hasn’t worked to stop this movement.)
In February 2021, Forbes published an article titled “How Businesses Can Prepare For The Upcoming Legal Rights Of Nature.” The fight is on.
We are now in the middle of what can be understood as the second of three phases in the movement. The first was the novelty of the idea: can we even imagine ecosystems having rights? The second is this new popular demand for ecosystem rights and the grappling with concepts and working out the legal mechanisms for how the new paradigm works. The third phase, which we have not yet gotten to, will be a confrontation between ecosystem rights and corporate constitutional rights, and whether we will all have to pay corporations to stop exploiting and destroying the earth (it does, in the end, all come down to money). The second phase that we are now entering will decide whether Rights of Nature will be a true paradigm shift in our legal systems or just a new shade of lipstick for the pig. CELDF is committed to making Rights of Nature law genuinely protect ecosystems and uphold human rights, indigenous rights, and self-determination in the process. We hope for your support in making the change that is necessary.