Does a river have a right to flow? What if the Gulf could sue BP for the damages to its ecosystem that have been caused as a result of the oil spill disaster? Entire human societies, our global economic system and indeed our structures of law, have been built from a colonial mindset that places humans not just apart from, but actually above nature. But there is a movement emerging today that is shifting the way we view our relationship with nature from being property-based to rights-based. By working to change our existing structures of law and culture, a new framework has emerged recognizing that nature itself actually possesses rights.  And this movement is starting to gain some serious momentum.

From this new paradigm questions are emerging before us: can we envisage for ourselves a future based not on exploiting nature but instead recognizing that nature has inherent rights to exist, thrive, and flourish? How different would our human societies, economies, and structures of law look as part of a connected, earth-centered community? And, how do we get there?

Global Exchange is pleased to announce the upcoming release on April 21st of a new book that explores these questions and more.  Co-developed by Global Exchange, Council of Canadians and Fundacion Pachamama, the book titled Rights of Nature: Making a Case for the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, begins to reveal the path of a movement that is driving the cultural and legal shift that is necessary to transform our human relationship with nature away from being property-based and towards a rights-based model of balance.

The book gathers the unique wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, environmental activists, lawyers, and small farmers in order to make a case for how and why humans must work to change our current structures of law to recognize that nature has inherent rights.  It includes essays and interviews from esteemed thought leaders such as Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Cormac Cullinan, Edwardo Galleano, Nimo Bassey, Thomas Goldtooth, and Shannon Biggs.

The proposed Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth (a companion to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) around which the book is written will be presented to the UN General Assembly by the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, during a session on creating ‘harmony with nature’ on April 20th in New York.