The new “Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change” report

The following post was collaboratively written by Shannon Biggs, Kylie Nealis and Megan Devlin.

Rights of Nature Advocates in Rio

Global Exchange’s Shannon Biggs is on the ground in Brazil this week for the Rio +20 Earth Summit to present our new report, “Rights of Nature: Planting the Seeds of Real Change” and to promote the rights of nature movement alongside allies.

The new Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change”  report directly challenges Rio +20’s Green Economy capitalism and examines the power and possibility and logic of a rights-based framework.

‘Rights of Nature’ is a movement capable of actually changing culture and law to institute new economies based on community values and Earth rights. The report explores how recognizing Rights for Nature provides an alternative cultural and legal framework to the official corporate-led ‘Green (or Greed) Economy’ agenda being put forward by the United Nations.

Shannon Biggs (far right) joins fellow members of the Global Alliance in Rio.

If adopted, the agenda of  Rio +20 will drive nature further into the global marketplace by “defining” (in economic terms) what  the Earth “does” for humans,  called “ecosystem services.” Proponents of this scheme to put a price on soil, forests, and fresh water believe that putting a price on the natural world can “save” it.

It is time for new thinking, new direction, and new actions. That’s why climate justice activists, community organizers, indigenous peoples movements and social justice organizations have come together at the Rio+20 to dispel the belief that the earth “belongs” to humans.

Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth

Ceremonial signing of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth

On Sunday June 17 allies participated in a ceremonial signing of a so-called Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Universal Declaration defines legal rights for ecosystems “to exist, flourish and regenerate their natural capacities.” This is just one demand of the Rights of Nature movement, which challenges the idea embedded within most laws that nature is seen solely as property.

While not asking to stop development entirely, recognizing legal rights for nature requires that new growth practices do not interfere with the existence and vitality of ecosystems. The idea of ‘living well’ as opposed to ‘living more’ is a key piece of the movement for nature’s rights.

Inside Peek at the New Report on Rights of Nature

The report – Rights of Nature: Planting Seeds of Real Change  features visionary thinkers such as Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, Thomas B.K. Goldtooth, Pablo Solon, Cormac Cullinan, Mari Margil and others who address questions like:

What would it look like to truly take on the root causes of climate change and put forward a system that places humankind in living balance with the carrying capacity of the Earth’s systems?

If we are to truly reconnect within the system of creation, we must also reawaken our own humanity and love for Mother Earth and act as if what we do next matters. Because it does.


  • Read and download the report here.
  • Help Global Exchange engage youth in the movement for nature’s rights. Vote for us to win $5,000 for a Rights of Nature youth summit!
  • Stay tuned for more updates from Rio +20 right here on our People to People blog.
  • Check out pictures from Rio+20 Earth Summit on our Facebook page.