Upcoming Events and Comment Opportunities
WATCH ELC's Executive Director Linda Sheehan speak before 700 attendees at TEDxMarin's annual event in San Rafael, California in this just-released TEDx video, "Earth Jujitsu: Escaping the Climate Chokehold by Adapting to Nature's Rights"
Dec. 2, 2013: Comments due on the California Water Plan, 2013 Update, Volume 3; write in support of water management practices that advance the rights of waterways and against destructive tunnel proposals that would harm waterways.
Dec. 12-13, 2013: Brisbane, Australian Earth Laws Alliance, Environmental Justice Symposium
Dec. 18, 2013: Comments due on the California Groundwater Workplan; write in support of water rights for waterways
December 2013: Cambridge University Press has just 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.
WATCH the video of ELC presenting at the October World Wilderness Congress in Salamanca, Spain on Nature's Rights (starts at 22:00)
SUPPORT the proposed WILD10 Nature's Rights Resolution by ELC and colleagues (#6 on list)
VIEW The hard copy of ELC's presentation on Nature's Rights
VIEW The hard copy of ELC's presentation on Rights of Whales and Dolphins, and sign up for cinema and DVD alerts for Blackfish, on the harm caused by killer whale captivity
Feb. 3-7, 2014: United Nations, NY, NY: Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals for the Rule of Law, Oceans, Forests, and Biodiversity; see Issue Brief for Rule of Law here
Feb. 14-16, 2014: Wellington, NZ, Sustainability: Conference at Victoria Univ. of Wellington School of Law. ELC will be a keynote speaker. Call for papers due 10/31/13.
Ongoing: Sign a petition to make Ecocide a crime in Europe.
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.
Rights of Waterways
It is a critically important time in California to let your voice be heard. Now is the time for the public to reach out to state decisionmakers in support of the rights of waterways to flow and be healthy.
First, the California State Water Resources Control Board is updating its Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan. This Plan sets state goals and strategies to protect the health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, the largest estuary on the west coast of North America. ELC submitted comments emphasizing waterways' rights to well-being and urging the Water Board to adopt flows and salinity levels that fully protect the fish, wildlife and aquatic habitat of this world-renowned, but extremely threatened, estuary.
Second, the state of California is preparing a decades-long Plan that is supposed to address the rapid decline in the health of the Bay-Delta Estuary, brought about in large part by excessive water pumping through the Delta. However, rather than advance sustainable water solutions that reduce pumping, the major focus of this state effort has been on the construction of massive tunnels that would facilitate destructive water pumping even further. California has released the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan environmental analysis chapters for public review, with Public Draft documents expected later in 2013 to be followed by a comment period.
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.