CELDF works with communities, grassroots groups and governments to assert community self-determination and the Rights of Nature. From rural to urban communities – from the United States, to Asia, Latin America, Australia, and beyond – CELDF is there, partnering with you to secure rights and grow this movement.

Read more about some of our work in Pennsylvania, Ohio, the Pacific Northwest and New England.

State & National Networks

United States communities are advancing rights-based organizing and legal strategies. CELDF is partnering with them through statewide coalitions to drive those rights to the state and federal level.

For over a decade, CELDF’s organizing has focused on the grassroots. Over that time, we’ve assisted on first-in-the-nation community bans on corporate threats such as shale gas drilling and fracking, factory farming, and sewage sludging. This organizing has evolved to address those necessary changes in our structure of law that allows corporations, hand-in-hand with our state and federal government, to override the best interests of people, communities, and nature.

Now we are beginning to build on our grassroots organizing,
to drive change to the state level.

We are bringing together communities from across states in which we’ve been organizing to build State Community Rights Networks. We launched the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network in 2010. We hired our first network coordinator in 2012 and are now building county-level chapters across the state. Through county chapters, we are accelerating our local organizing as we help contribute to a larger movement for higher level change.

Building on this work in Pennsylvania, in 2012 we worked with our local partners in New Mexico to launch the New Mexico Coalition for Community Rights. In Washington State, we convened a gathering to establish the Washington Community Rights Network. In 2013, communities across New Hampshire, Oregon, and Ohio came together to launch the New Hampshire, Oregon , and Ohio Community Rights Networks. And in January 2014, Colorado communities initiated the Colorado Community Rights Network.

International Work

Our work to establish and protect self-determination and the Rights of Nature is global. As ecosystems and species across the globe are collapsing, there is a growing understanding that a fundamentally different relationship between humankind and the natural world is needed. Further, there is a growing realization that to create that new relationship, the highest legal protections – grounded in rights-based frameworks – must be established for our communities and nature.

This movement is rooted in solidarity. International solidarity and lessons-learned sharing is key for the linking of the many local fights we face in the global Rights of Nature movement. We are honored to participate. 

We don’t lose until we quit, and we don’t quit.

Youngstown, Ohio proverb

CELDF provides assistance to local, state, and national organizations and governments around the world seeking to advance the rights of nature and the right of local, community self-government. This includes research into existing legal and constitutional structures, drafting of local, state, and national laws, as well as education and training.

CELDF has worked in the U.S., Ecuador, India, Nepal, Canada, Australia, Colombia, and other countries to advance rights-based legal protections for communities and Nature.


CELDF’s work outside of the U.S. began in Ecuador. In 2008, CELDF partnered with Fundación Pachamama to meet with delegates to Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly. The Assembly was tasked with drafting the country’s new constitution. 

Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize the rights of nature in its constitution – moving from a property-based framework for environmental protection, to one that is rights-based. Several cases have now been brought, in which Ecuadorian courts have upheld and affirmed the constitutional rights of Nature.


CELDF has partnered with Ganga Action Parivar and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance-India to draft the National Ganga River Rights Act. The Ganga River is in severe decline and standard environmental laws and regulations are unable to protect and restore the river. The Ganga Rights Act would recognize rights of the river to exist and thrive, and the rights of the people of India to pure water and a healthy river.


CELDF partnered with the Center for Economic and Social Development in Kathmandu, as well as civil society and indigenous groups in Nepal, on the rights of nature. CELDF has met with delegates to the Nepali Constituent Assembly, as well as Parliamentary members, and at their request has drafted legislative language.

One of the world’s most mountainous nations, Nepal has seen the U.N. climate change negotiations fail to make progress. In 2009, the Nepalese government held a cabinet meeting at base camp at Mt. Everest to highlight the significant impacts of global warming on the Himalayan glaciers. The glaciers provide much of the country’s water. As one Sherpa told us, the “mountains are turning black” as rock is being exposed with the melting of ice and snow.

Advancing the Rights of Nature Around the World

CELDF is in solidarity with groups across the globe to develop Rights of Nature frameworks. Learn more about international law from our Legal Resources. Further, CELDF is a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.