Rights of Nature
INTERNATIONAL RIGHTS OF NATURE SOLIDARITY BUILDING MOMENTUM
By Suzanne Forcese
Following international support for the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, Toledo,Ohio’s CELDF is honored to work in solidarity with a new network to advance Rights of Nature in Europe.
On February 26, 2019, voters of Toledo, Ohio made history by passing the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR). The law was the first in the United States to recognize the rights of a specific ecosystem.
In response to LEBOR’s passage, the Ohio government has taken a hostile stance against LEBOR by joining with the corporate plaintiff to overturn LEBOR.
“LEBOR is touching a nerve. Ultimately, it is but one spear launched by we, the people, at a body of law that privileges corporate power and commerce above the most basic rights to water, life, and our continued survival.” - - Toledans for Safe Water statement in a public letter of support for LEBOR
Movements for systemic change require many spears.
Tish O’Dell, Organizer of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) contacted WATERTODAY with the historic news that a French-speaking network has recently been created to support the rights of animals, plants, trees, and aquatic ecosystems.
The network includes the following groups:
“It is exciting to read about several French speaking communities joining together to form a network to advance Rights of Nature in Europe,” O’Dell tells us.
- Loire Parliament, an initiative of the organization POLAU that is working to recognize the rights of the Loire River and its ecosystems.
- The local organization Valentransition that is also working on a similar project on the Escaut River, which is afflicted with a massive industrial pollution crisis in the North of France
- The organization A.R.B.R.E.S., which carries a Declaration of the Rights of Trees.
- The organization id-eau that is working on a campaign for recognition of the rights of the Rhône River.
- Notre Affaire a Tous, a climate justice organization formed in 2015 and anchored in the fight for the preservation of nature.
- Lobby de Poissy in France, which is part of the Kids of Planet’s Rights Collective, who have drafted a European Declaration of Planet’s rights, submitted to the European Commission
- Nature Rights, an NGO advocating for the protection of nature and the rights of Indigenous people.
- Wild Legal, an interactive legal program where students, experts and citizens collaborate with the Rights of Nature.
“We are now working to grow the network with other similar organizations and communities active in the defense of the ecosystems in which they live,” – Marie Toussaint, European Parliament Member
“Sometimes when working towards paradigm shifting cultural change that seems so obvious and yet so challenging, it is difficult to feel like any progress is being made. But this is progress!
“Here in the United States, CELDF staff have been working with local communities for over two decades and have supported local communities working to protect the environment using Rights of Nature strategies. We soon realized that many of these communities shared many of the same challenges.
“Our next task was to help communities connect with one another to build a greater coalition of power, and so ‘Community Rights’ networks were formed. The news that these French communities are joining together to form such a network is truly exciting.”
Building off this solidarity, O’Dell, who worked on LEBOR, participated in a symposium calling for the recognition of the Rights of Nature within Europe.
“International solidarity and lessons-learned strategies are key to the linking of the many local fights we face in the global Rights of Nature movement. We are honored to participate.”
“Water connects us all. Grassroots organizing can feel small at times, but we build on one another. These collective efforts across the globe build momentum toward a shift in our understanding that water is life,”- Markie Miller, key organizer for LEBOR
Lake Erie granted legal rights, a first in history
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Lake Erie remains vulnerable and without protections amidst the COVID 19 pandemic
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