Earth Law Center works to transform the law to recognize, honor, and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve.
We do this by building a force of advocates for nature's rights at local and international levels. We partner with local organizations create new laws
that recognize rights of rivers, oceans, coastal and land ecosystems.
Key initiatives include:
Securing legal rights for Marine Protected Areas, such as the Patagonian Sea, to protect thousands of species of animals and help preserve its ecosystem
Protecting the Magdalena River, Mexico City’s last remaining free-flowing river, to enable its restoration and ease pressure on the surrounding environmental resources
Fighting for legal protection of the Great Lakes, to ensure they can sustain both human needs and the ecosystem as a whole.
We envision a future in which humans and nature flourish together.
In most countries, nature has the legal status of property. Under this system, the environment has no voice in decision-making and cannot bring issues to court.
Earth Law Center works to shift this paradigm, fighting for formal recognition of nature's inherent right to thrive. Earth Law gives ecosystems the same rights as people and corporations. This enables the defense of nature in the courts—not only for the benefit of people, but also for the sake of nature itself. Earth Law argues that humans and nature are not at odds, but are deeply connected and dependent on one another.
We launched our first lawsuit as part of a California-wide initiative to list over-diverted waterways as “impaired” under the Clean Water Act.
We created the Universal Declaration of River Rights, for use in rights of nature projects for rivers in the U.S. and Mexico.
Co-drafted and ensured passage of Santa Monica’s “Sustainability Rights Ordinance,” the West Coast’s first “rights of nature” law.
We created and unveiled the Earth Law Framework for Marine Protected Areas at the 4th International Marine Protected Area Congress. After a Call for Inputs we will finalize the framework and apply it to specific projects of Marine Protected Area governance.
- Developed and taught “Earth Law” graduate course at Vermont Law School and elsewhere.
- With Yale Law School, created and released a report highlighting 100 cases of co-violations of both nature's and human rights worldwide: Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Human Rights and Nature's Rights.
- Co-organized and served as Prosecutor for the 2016 Bay Area Rights of Nature Tribunal and the 2014 Bay Area “People’s Tribunal.”
- Co-organized and served as Co-Prosecutor at the Third International Rights of Nature Tribunal held in Paris December 2015.
- Co-established the “Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance” in the San Francisco bioregion.