About Earth Law Center
A Global Force of Advocates for the Rights of Nature
Just as people have fundamental rights, so too should nature.
Earth Law is the idea that ecosystems have the right to exist, thrive, and evolve—and that nature should be able to defend its rights in court.
Earth law looks at the pressures on the Earth that contribute to the destruction of its ecosystems and species. It then argues that a balanced approach can provide for the entire Earth community, including humans.
We envision a future in which humans and nature flourish together. Join us in defending nature’s rights.
Lakes and coastal communities are delicate environments, vulnerable to climate change, contamination, invasive species, and more. ELC fights for the rights of lakes alongside local communities and indigenous tribes.
Your contribution will help establish legal rights for nature.
Nature needs your talents! Join us to become an advocate for the inherent rights of nature.
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Global Outreach and Education
ELC Global Outreach
Our environmental challenges span the globe, arising from legal systems that fail to recognize nature’s rights. ELC defends the rights of nature alongside local partners around the world. It advocates before the United Nations and other forums for laws and policies that allow people and nature to flourish together.
ELC prepares tomorrow’s leaders to develop solutions that support the inherent rights of nature. ELC has created and taught a graduate-level curriculum at Vermont Law School and California Institute of Integral Studies, and has expanded with a secondary school curriculum.
Earth Law Center Blog
Earth Law Center is participating in the Ríos Vivos Foro y Festival (Living Rivers Forum and Festival) in Puebla, Mexico. Participants will consider new approaches to river restoration and celebrate local waterways like the Atoyac River.
Plastic pollution in Earth's oceans seriously threatens marine ecosystem health; current environmental laws have failed to address this global issue.
It is a special place of worship due to its origination at the base of a cottonwood tree; an environmental irony where human interest and appreciation endangers what it seeks to appreciate.
The Earth Law Framework for Marine Protected Areas serves as a tool for adopting a holistic and rights-based approach to ocean governance; protecting both nature and humans from co-violations of their rights at sea.
The Amazon River is the world’s largest in water volume, and 2nd only to the Nile in surface water. It is the largest river basin, running through Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, Bolivia and Brazil.
Florida has lost millions of acres of forest and wetlands to development. Dozens of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, coral and other creatures crowd the state’s list of endangered species.
Puget Sound is the 3rd largest estuary in the U.S. The health of species within these waters are intricately tied to human activities both on the land and water.
First law textbook on legal movement to establish rights for nature from Earth Law Center. The textbook will be available for university courses and elsewhere. The goal is to train the next generation of rights of nature experts.
Vast over-allocation of water, with very little (or sometimes none) left for waterways themselves, exceeds California’s actual freshwater supply by about fivefold.
The Rights of Nature movement... is still relatively young, and its proponents are still actively involved in debates about how to best articulate its conceptual framework.
Medicine Bow National Forest, near ELC's new regional office in Boulder, CO
Dams disrupt a waterway's ability to support vital ecosystems. They increase evaporation, and make coastlines vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels.
Over 30 million people rely upon the water from the Great Lakes, which touch eight states, and the Canadian province of Ontario.
In Spring 2017, ELC launched the Rights of the Ocean Initiative to promote an Earth-centered paradigm in ocean governance.
Three rivers in Mexico, the Magdalena, Atoyac and San Pedro Mezquital, face significant threats including pollution and altered flows. A proposed dam would seriously damage the San Pedro Mezquital.
The convergence of two major ocean currents turn the waters of coastal Uruguay into a rich ecosystem, and nursery for fish, seabirds, and whales.
Earth Law recognizes the worldviews of many indigenous cultures and applies it to legal systems.
The Nez Perce tribe has been calling for the removal of four dams on the Lower Snake River.
ELC partners with the UN Harmony with Nature to advance a paradigm shift to recognize rights of nature.
Once a symbol of ingenuity and engineering prowess, the latest research shows that dams destroy river ecosystems and adversely affect human health and well-being.
Student activism captures media attention, prompting the public to respond to causes. It can shift the paradigm on climate change and policies that are detrimental to the environment.
The Patagonian Shelf is a highly productive ecosystem due to the mixing of the warm saline waters of the Brazil Current and the cooler, nutrient rich sub-Antarctic waters.
Calling for the creation of a new legal and social paradigm to ensure current and future generations with adequate supplies of clean water.
IMPAC4 met in Chile with over 1000 participants from 80 countries, including the Prince of Monaco, President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet and renowned oceanographer, Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Despite many successes of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), our world's seas and oceans continue to suffer from pollution and degradation. What the seas and oceans need is a paradigm shift so that other species and ecosystem needs are equally important to human ones.
"Now, the world at large seems to be rediscovering indigenous wisdom by coming around to the idea that humans are part of a complex whole – not outside and independent of it."
Earth Law Center is promoting a new paradigm for ocean governance- one that focuses on the Ocean’s own well-being and is guided by principles of sustainability, ecosystem health, precaution and interconnectedness.
Guest Blogger Laura Villa gives us the scoop on the Atrato River in Colombia gaining legal rights.
On behalf of Earth Law Center, Darlene Lee delivered a statement on the Rights of the Ocean at the U.N. Ocean Conference's 7th Plenary Meeting.