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Earth Law and the Rights of Nature: A New Generation of Laws Built for Nature
Wilson, Grant, Kayman, Lindsey, Bartlett, Paul, and Milena Popov John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Earth Law Center, Environmental Education Fund
Forget doom and gloom. Let’s educate students about the Rights of Nature, an inspiring, evolving legal development which is gaining traction in the US and around the world, and which can promote the cultural shift needed to address our overlapping intersecting environmental crises — climate change, accelerating species extinction, and ecosystem collapse. The Rights of Nature is one aspect of Earth Law. Some of the other specific movements falling under the banner of Earth law are nonhuman rights for animals, defining ecocide as a crime, rights of future generations, legal guardianship for nature, and Indigenous legalities. In most countries, Nature has the legal status of mere property. The Rights of Nature recognizes that humans and Nature are in a relationship, rather than Nature merely providing a hoard of natural resources for indiscriminate human use. The legal structures discussed in Rights of Nature literature codifies the details of this restored relationship, rather than actually creating it. Nature becomes a legal entity with basic rights: the right to exist, flourish, thrive and regenerate. The Rights of Nature can also complement Indigenous rights by empowering Indigenous peoples to serve as legal guardians of their traditional territories. This poster and a companion open access CUNY Commons webpage and repository will provide links to curated video clips, films, case studies, a course book, a graduate level course syllabus, mock trial workshops, and written materials that can be used for incorporating the Rights of Nature and complimentary legal movements concepts into curricula.
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