Skip to content

You are using an outdated browser

Internet Explorer is not supported by this site and Microsfot has stopped releasing updates, therefore you may encounter issues whilst visiting this site and we strongly recommend that you upgrade your browser for modern web functionality, a better user experience and improved security.

Upgrade my browser

2021 was a big year for ‘Rights of Nature’

2021 was a big year for ‘Rights of Nature’
Source: Facebook/GARN

? As we wrap up 2021, the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) share the movement’s highlights — from huge wins worldwide, to expanding the movement to new boundaries, it was a busy year!

Rights of Nature advances worldwide in 2021

Recognising Rights of Nature is a ground breaking new legal structure that fundamentally changes the legal standing of ecosystems. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles. 

Members of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) are a diverse network of scientists, attorneys, economists, indigenous leaders, authors, spiritual leaders, business leaders, politicians, actors, homemakers, students, activists: people from all walks of life who are looking to transform our human relationship with our planet. They monitor events worldwide and compile an annual list of milestones. To mark the end of 2021, BrightVibes selected 21 from their list.

Bagungu women gather to display eco-cultural calendars produced through intense community dialogues. Photo: Hannibal Rhoades.
Uganda goes one step further in protecting the Rights of Nature Uganda. Bagungu women gather to display eco-cultural calendars produced through intense community dialogues. Photo: Hannibal Rhoades. Source: Hannibal Rhoades/GaiaFoundation

21 worldwide wins for nature (1-5)

1 – In Perú, a bill for the law is presented to recognise Rights of Nature, endorsed by congressman Lenin Bazán and presented by Indigenous groups such as ONAMIAP, with collaborations from constitutionalists Juan Carlos Ruiz and Mario Melo. It proposes that the “Law recognises the Rights of Nature, ecosystems, and species as a subject of rights deserving protection of the State and explicitly declares that Nature is a living being, having intrinsic and universal value, with the right to exist, naturally flourish and entitled to regeneration, restoration, and evolution.” More information.

2  On 25 March, David Choquehuanca, Acting President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, launched the initiative “Reencuentro con la Pachamama” (Re-establishing our Connection with Mother Earth/Pachamama) calling the national and international communities to protect her. More information. 

3  Rights of the Magpie River/Muteshekau Shipu recognised by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit and the Minganie Regional County Municipality (RCM) in Canada. More information.

4  Uganda goes one step further in protecting the Rights of Nature: Indigenous Bagungu communities pioneered legislation to protect sacred natural sites and recognise the customary laws of the Bagungu People, safeguarding Nature’s rights to exist, thrive, and evolve. More information. 

5  The Blue Mountains City Council has become the first Local Council and first government entity in Australia to adopt the Rights of Nature as a foundational principle for its policies and planning. More information. 

Ecuador evokes Rights of Nature articles 71 and 72 in the Constitution against mining. Source: YASunidos.org

21 worldwide wins for nature (6-10)

6  A new Action for Protection legal case was won in Ecuador against mining – evoking Rights of Nature articles 71 and 72 in the Constitution. The judge ruled mining activities caused environmental damage in El Oro province. More information.

7  On 20 May, lawyers and researchers from the research group “Direito Ambiental e Ecologia Política na Sociedade de Risco (GPDA)” filed a lawsuit in Florianópolis, Brazil, seeking the recognition of Lagoa da Conceição as a subject of rights. Watch the video.

8  Also on 20 May, the European Parliament passes a resolution on the liability of companies for environmental damage. More information (link one), (link two).

9  That same day, the First Criminal Circuit Court with Knowledge Functions Neiva, declared the Fortalecillas River in Colombia “a subject with rights to protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration by the State and the community”. More information.

10  32 independent constituents in Chile issued a letter for the protection of the environment and for an ecological Constitution that enshrines the Rights of Nature. More information.

Unanimously, the Governance and Constitutional Points and Agricultural and Forestry Development commissions of the local Congress approved the initiative to raise the rights of nature to constitutional rank and bring the principle of land distribution back to the original meaning and text of the 1917 Constitution.
Mexico establishes new paradigm with a biocentric vision of the environment rather than an anthropocentric vision. Unanimously, the Governance and Constitutional Points and Agricultural and Forestry Development commissions of the local Congress approved the initiative to raise the rights of nature to constitutional rank and bring the principle of land distribution back to the original meaning and text of the 1917 Constitution. Source: comunicadores.mx

21 worldwide wins for nature (11-15)

11  Northern Ireland councils for Derry City and Strabane and the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council recognise the Rights of Nature, in a ‘first for these islands’. More information. Meanwhile, on December 13th, just over the border in the Republic of Ireland, Donegal County Council became the first council area in the Republic of Ireland to recognise the Rights of Nature. Read more here.

12  The Mexican Congress voted to include the Rights of Nature in their Magna Carta. The commissions of Governance and Constitutional Points and Agricultural and Forestry Development of the local Congress unanimously approved the initiative to elevate the Rights of Nature to constitutional rank and return the principle of land distribution to the original meaning and text of the 1917 Constitution. More information.

13  Corsican citizens recognise the rights of the Tavignanu River, a first in France. More information.

14  August 5th: The White Earth Nation of Ojibwe in the U.S.A. sues the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in tribal court on behalf of wild rice, making it the first RoN lawsuit filed by wild rice in tribal court. More information. 

15  August 18th: A Commission on Environment and Rights of Nature was established in the Chilean Constitutional Convention, which will make it possible to introduce the Rights of Nature in Chile‘s constitutional debate prior to the drafting of their new Constitution. More information.

The Constitutional Court of Ecuador used the constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros protected forest from mining concessions.
Ecuador’s Los Cedros safe from mining. The Constitutional Court of Ecuador used the constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros protected forest from mining concessions. Source: Facebook/GARN

21 worldwide wins for nature (16-21)

16  The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2021 Congress was held in Marseille, France from September 3 to 11. As the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, the IUCN is a global authority on the status of Nature and the measures needed to safeguard the planet. Civil society groups pushed Rights of Nature at the Congress to ensure it remains at the top of the agenda. Download GARN’s press release.

17  September 7th: MP Alexandre Boulerice, from the House of Commons of Canada, in partnership with the International Observatory of Nature Rights, announced that the New Democratic Party (NPD), is fully committed to recognising the inherent rights of the fauna and flora of the Saint-Laurent River. More information.

18  The Huaynakana Kamatahuara Kana, a Peruvian Kukama women’s organisation, filed an injunction requesting that the government recognise the rights of the Marañón River as a living being and guarantee its protection. More information.

19  September 8th: Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Rights of Nature on an article that could allow logging and extractive use of mangroves, which was declared unconstitutional. More information. Then on December 1st, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador used the constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros protected forest from mining concessions. More information on that here.

20  The 5th International Rights of Nature Tribunal was held in Glasgow, Scotland, parallel to COP26 on November 4th and 5th. The Tribunal heard the Amazon as a threatened living entity case and the False solutions to the climate crisis case. Download the Tribunal judges’ decision here.

21  The Green Party of England and Wales has introduced a “Rights of Nature Act” to give nature legal rights. The Green Party has called for ecosystems to be provided legal protection. The ‘Rights of Nature Act’ would extend legal rights to wildlife and habitats and would establish an independent commission to oversee enforcement.  More information

The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) is network of organisations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognise, respect and enforce Rights of Nature.
A worldwide movement creating human communities that respect and defend the Rights of Nature. The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature (GARN) is network of organisations and individuals committed to the universal adoption and implementation of legal systems that recognise, respect and enforce Rights of Nature. Source: Facebook/GARN

GARN on a mission

GARN establishes that in order to ensure an environmentally sustainable future, humans must reorient themselves from an exploitative and ultimately self-destructive relationship with nature, to one that honors the deep interrelation of all life and contributes to the health and integrity of the natural environment.

An essential step in achieving this is to create a system of jurisprudence that sees and treats nature as a fundamental, rights bearing entity and not as mere property to be exploited at will. 

Breaking out of the human-centered limitations of our current legal systems by recognising, respecting and enforcing Rights of Nature is one of the most transformative and highly leveraged actions that humanity can take to create a sustainable future for all.

Rights of Nature timeline — learn all about how the movement took off and its key milestones and latest updates on this timeline compilation.

Source: GARN

Make an Impact

CONTRIBUTE TO THE RIGHTS OF NATURE MOVEMENT

Help our planet today! Make your contribution to the movement by donating to the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature! Together, we are building a powerful global movement to recognise, respect and defend the Rights of Nature.