Our planet is experiencing a big ecological crisis (in terms of climate change and extinction of plant and animal species). Much of this crisis is caused by humans. So, the question is: “should the Biosphere have its own <<rights>>?” Why human beings and entities created by human beings such as corporations and countries have their rights and “the nature”, as a whole, haven’t any right? Mumta Ito, founder of the International Centre for Wholistic Law, proposes a new beginning for environmental law based on extending “civil rights” to the natural world. At the end of April the magazine “The Ecologist” published an interesting article focusing on this proposal. Here you can find the key points of the article.
Despite the proliferation of environmental laws and treaties, destruction of the natural world still continues apace. The laws that we already have - such as the EC Habitats and Species Directive, the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act and the US Endangered Species Act - selectively protect species proven to be under risk. However, in a radically interconnected world, where according to scientists dozens of species are literally going extinct every day; this approach is no longer enough. Moreover, modern law in most countries operates within the an outdated paradigms based on a mechanistic (the world is made up of separate unconnected objects), anthropocentric (the world as existing solely for the use of human beings), adversarial (competitive/retributive model).
Being a part of nature, we cannot harm nature without also harming ourselves. Rights of nature laws hold a vision which extends our idea of community to include the whole community of life - a concept also enshrined in the UN's Earth Charter Initiative. We need a legislative framework that honors the law of interconnection of natural systems and allows us to protect nature for its intrinsic value rather than its utility value to humans.
Some countries around the world are acting in that sense and are looking at rights for nature as a sensible way forward. Ecuador is the first country to have adopted rights of nature in its constitution. Bolivia has adopted rights of nature at the national level and appointed an Ombudsman to deal with environmental issues directly. Over 3 dozen municipalities in the USA (and counting ... ) including Santa Monica and Pittsburgh have adopted rights of nature at the local level.
Now, a group of lawyers, environmentalists, academics and others have come together to bring a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to call upon the European Commission to make a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to take a rights based approach to environmental protection. The growing team, which currently spans 13 EU countries, is advocating the adoption of laws that recognise the right of nature to exist renew and maintain its vital cycles.
The ECI is a participatory democracy mechanism within the EU, since April 2012, that allows citizens to propose a law. It is a direct way of empowering citizens to put items on the EU legislative agenda. The legal basis is Article 11 TEU and Article 24 TFEU. Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 sets out the detailed requirements. It is an efficient way to bring about change - if the EU adopts a proposed Directive then all the member states are required to create laws implementing it within a specified time-frame. The European Commission wants citizens to play a more active role in European political processes and the ECI is a powerful way of doing this.
The project in question is called “Being Nature Project” and is run by the “International Centre for Wholistic Law.” If you would like to be involved in co-creating this exciting history-making initiative, please get in touch with Mumta Ito, the founder of the International Centre for Wholistic Law, at .
LTEconomy, May 11th, 2014
You can find more on this story at:
The Ecologist, 25th April 2014:
Being Nature Initiative - International Centre for Wholistic Law
The European Citizen’s Initiative