Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS EARTH LAW?

Earth Law is the growing body of law recognizing that the Earth has rights, and that humans and nature are co-members of a larger Earth Community . Rather than treating nature as “property” for human consumption, Earth Law recognizes that nature is an entity with its own rights.

Earth Law believes that the rights of nature are not given by humans. Nature’s right to exist and thrive already belongs to nature. Our task is to ensure that human law recognizes the existence of these rights.

Earth Law includes a multitude of interrelated movements and ideas, including the “right of nature,” ecocide, rights of future generations, and others.

 

WHY IS EARTH LAW IMPORTANT?

We know that one of the greatest challenges facing society today is taking collective responsibility for the planet’s future. Environmental regulations have offered a plodding solution to urgent and rapidly evolving environmental challenges. In the US, for example, an average family of four emits more greenhouse gases because of the meat they eat than from driving two cars. The choices each person in the developed world makes, has collectively a huge impact on the planet.

Creating new legal mechanisms to hold society collectively responsible for the planet we call home addresses a root cause of our current environmental challenge.

 

WINS FOR THE RIGHTS OF NATURE

  • Ecuador 2008 amended its constitution to endow the environment with inalienable rights to "exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution" and it empowers individuals to legally defend these rights on behalf of the environment.

  • Bolivia 2010 adopted Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earthpresented to the United Nations in April 2011.

  • Mexico City (?)

  • Rivers recognized as having legal personhood rights in 2017: Whanghanui (New Zealand), Ganges and Yamuna (India), Atrato (Colombia)

  • Nearly 2 dozen U.S. municipalities from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Santa Monica, California haveadopted ordinances granting legal rights to the natural world and enforcement rights to affected communities.

 

WHAT DOES EARTH LAW CENTER DO TO ADVANCE EARTH LAW?

ELC is a legal advocacy group uniquely focused on establishing Earth Law, including the rights of nature, through two key areas of activity: Legal and Outreach.

  • Legal work: Consists of securing biodiversity and ecosystem rights for rivers, coastal areas and Marine Protected Areas.

  • Outreach work: Focuses on advancing Earth Law education, “globalizing” the rights of nature, and mainstreaming Earth Law through creative forces.

 

WHAT CAN PEOPLE DO TO SUPPORT ELC’S WORK TO RECOGNIZE AND DEFEND NATURE’S RIGHTS?

Volunteer, you don’t have to be a law student or lawyer!

Email us to share your expertise or propose new initiatives.

Support us by donating to ELC – help us make this vision a reality.

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