Upcoming Events and Comment Opportunities
VISIT ELC's new online, interactive Map of Human and Environmental Rights Violations worldwide. Please send in information on other examples to share.
Feb. 26, 2014: Speak with ELC on behalf of waterway rights to flow at the California State Water Board hearing on the state's unprecedented drought.
JAN. 29-MARCH 10, 2014: Provide input on the draft UN Handbook for Realizing the Rights to Water and Sanitation.
READ: In December, Cambridge University Press released Rule of Law for Nature: New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law, including ELC's chapter on "Realizing Nature's Rule of Law through Rights of Waterways." Learn more here.
READ: Wild Law in Practice, edited by Michelle Maloney and Peter Burdon and featuring a chapter by Earth Law Center, "'Water as the Way’: Achieving Well Being through ‘Right Relationship’ with Water." Available now!
LEARN about the groundbreaking Rights of Nature Tribunal held at the close of the January 2014 Global Rights of Nature Summit in Ecuador.
FEB. 14-16, 2014: ELC was a keynote speaker in New Zealand at the New Thinking on Sustainability Conference at Victoria Univ. of Wellington School of Law, speaking on the role of Sustainability Rights Ordinances such as in Santa Monica to advance well-being. Click here to review the extensive program.
TAKE ACTION: Weigh in against the destructive California Administration proposal to construct giant tunnels that drain water for ecosystems and fish! Read the press release by project opponents and email Governor Brown to oppose the proposed tunnels and support locally sustainable water solutions that respect waterways' rights to be healthy. Read the recently-released document and watch here for more information as additional project and comment details are released.
TAKE ACTION: A key rights of nature partner, Fundacion Pachamama in Quito, has been illegally closed down by the Ecuadorian Government as a result of their indigenous and environmental rights advocacy work. Sign the Avaaz petition calling on the government to reverse this decision!
WATCH ELC's Executive Director Linda Sheehan speak before 700 attendees at TEDxMarin's annual event in San Rafael, California in the TEDx video, "Earth Jujitsu: Escaping the Climate Chokehold by Adapting to Nature's Rights."
WATCH the video of ELC presenting at the October World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain on Nature's Rights (starts at 22:00). Read the adopted WILD10 Nature's Rights Resolution by ELC and colleagues, and learn more about the next steps in bringing rights of nature to ecosystem and wildlife protection worldwide.
FEB. 18-19, 2014: The President of the UN General Assembly is holding a discussion on Water, Sanitation and Sustainable Energy in New York, with the objective of generating inputs to the formulation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on these topics.
REVIEW here the results of the UN discussions February 3-7 related to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals for the Rule of Law, Oceans, Forests, and Biodiversity; see Issue Brief for Rule of Law here.
ONGOING: Sign a petition to make Ecocide a crime in Europe. The European Citizens' Initiative “End Ecocide in Europe” aims to make severe environmental destruction a crime. Details are given in a draft directive, and in this brief YouTube video. For the intellectual grounding of the End-Ecocide movement, see this report from the Human Rights Consortium at the University of London.
Follow Earth Law Center on our Tumblr account.
Video: POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, Water Sustainability Project, Webinar: Giving Nature a Voice: Legal Rights of Waterways - Linda Sheehan on rights of waterways and Vernon Tava on Whanganui River agreement.
Film Release - "United Natures"
A new film, "United Natures: A United Nations of All Species," addressing ecological activism, permaculture, agroecology and Earth rights has been released.
Directed and produced by Peter Charles Downey, the film features some of the world’s foremost environmentalists and philosophers, including Dr. Vandana Shiva, Cormac Cullinan, John Seed, Dr. Stephan Harding, Polly Higgins, David Holmgren, Dr. Alessandro Pelizzon, Prof. Judith Koons, and others.
The film also features Earth Law Center's Linda Sheehan, who discusses ELC's work to advance the rights of nature in law. View the film here.
Executive Director Linda Sheehan in the News
Greenwire, the "one-stop" source for those who track environmental and energy policy, has published a feature-length article about Executive Director Linda Sheehan. The article is available here and more information about Greenwire can be found here.
Northcoast Environmental Center's "Econews Report" sat down with Earth Law Center’s Executive Director Linda Sheehan for an interview on KHSU. Listen as Jessica Hall of Humboldt Baykeeper interviews Linda about the rights of nature and Santa Monica's Sustainability Rights Ordinance. Linda also spoke with Water Canada about recognizing rights for waterways:
Just as we recognize the need to protect inherent human rights from the excesses of the state, so too should we protect our partners on Earth from the excesses of humans and our human governance systems. Like our own human value, the value of nature does not arise from our decisions on its worth, but rather from its existence on this planet.
Santa Monica, California Passes Sustainability Rights Ordinance
On April 9th, the City of Santa Monica, California unanimously passed their Sustainability Rights Ordinance, which recognizes that “natural communities and ecosystems possess fundamental and inalienable rights to exist and flourish in the City of Santa Monica.” The Ordinance includes protections for this right from acts by “corporate entities,” which it states “do not enjoy special privileges or powers under the law that subordinate the community's rights to their private interests.” Finally, the Ordinance also articulates the rights of people to self-governance, a healthy environment and sustainable living.
The rights described in the Ordinance will be advanced in part by Santa Monica’s model Sustainable City Plan, which is being updated now and which sets out specific sustainability actions and goals.
Earth Law Center spoke at the first reading in strong support of the proposed Ordinance. Watch the video of the City Council meeting (scroll down to Item 7C). We commend the City of Santa Monica staff and Task Force on the Environment for this work, which we have been fortunate to promote with partners since its inception. Finally, we thank the City Council and Santa Monicans for their environmental leadership in becoming the first city in California to advance the rights of nature in law!
Read the HuffPost blog on the ordinance by ELC and the Santa Monica Task Force on the Environment, and the Alternet article by Global Exchange providing more details on this important step forward. CNBC also highlighted the ordinance for Earth Day, as did Grist and HuffPost Green.
This model is applicable worldwide as well. Read ELC's op-ed in the Victoria Times Colonist for an example of how to take action for rights of nature at the local level in Canada.
Earth Day Address by Earth Law Center to the U.N. on Rights of Nature
Earth Law Center addressed the United Nations on Earth Day, at the "Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to Commemorate Mother Earth Day".
Along with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and invited panelists, ELC discussed alternative economic approaches that further a more ethical relationship with the Earth. ELC focused its remarks on the need to recognize the rights of nature in law and governance, as an essential tool in this effort. Read ELC's remarks here. You may watch ELC's and the other speakers remarks here, and read other nations' and intervenors' statements here. Read the commendation by the President of the UN General Assembly on Earth Law Center's participation.
For more, read the U.N. Summary of the Dialogue, the U.N. Press release, the U.N. Concept Note on this Earth Day event, the remarks of the Secretary-General of the U.N., and the remarks of the President of the General Assembly.
Vermonters Vote for Rights of Nature
Vermont's annual Town Meeting Day in March has been bringing together citizens for over 200 years. This year, two Vermont towns - Strafford and Norwich - passed Articles urging their Legislature to amend the state's Constitution to recognize the rights of nature. This is the first step of a multi-year effort to amend Vermont's Constitution to recognize the inherent rights of Vermont's natural environment, and to support those rights with citizen enforcement authority. Earth Law Center is pleased to have been able to assist with the development of the language for the Articles, starting with our work teaching Earth Law at top-ranked Vermont Law School. We welcome the opportunity to aid this important effort as it moves forward.
You can track the movement's progress here. Also, please visit here for an interview with ELC's Executive Director on this work, and here for an article about the Vermont movement's founder.
Why Rights of Nature
A new video, "Why Rights of Nature," explains more about the need for this movement. We invite you to view the video and visit our website further to learn more about our work to create legal systems that support the planet. Thank you!
Earth Law Center is a “think, share and do” organization dedicated to advancing laws that incorporate the inherent rights of all Earth’s inhabitants and ecosystems to co-exist, thrive and evolve. Watch a video of Executive Director Linda Sheehan addressing the need for this movement in a presentation at Southern Cross University, Australia.