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Rights of Nature Tour of India with Vandana Shiva

Global Exchange Reality Tour ~ November 1 – 11, 2015

India, it is often said is not a country but a continent,

How different would our human societies, economies, and structures of law look as part of a connected, Earth-centered community?

“The ecological and economic problems we face are rooted in a series of reductionist steps, which have shrunk our imagination and our identity, our purpose on the Earth, and the instruments we use to meet our needs. We are first and foremost Earth citizens. And our highest duty is to maintain the living systems of the Earth that support our life. Earth citizenship needs Earth-centered cultures, Earth-based democracy, and Earth-centered economies.” -Vandana Shiva, from the book, The Rights of Nature

While many over the past decades have explored the idea of living in balance with the planet and limiting the role of unfettered corporate power in all aspects of life, the rights-based movement that seeks to change fundamental law and culture is both relatively new and rapidly accelerating. It has kept pace with the realization that the current corporate-led global economic framework has brought us to the brink of economic and ecological disaster, and that true change will only come from the grassroots.

Program Highlights:

* Visit to the Raj Ghat
* Visit to Dr. Vandana Shiva Navdanya Biodiversity and Conservation Farm
* Meet with the National Ganga Rights Movement
* Learn about the people’s movement against POSCO
* 5 days at the Navdanya Biodiversity Conservation Farm
* Meet with various local NGOs

Learn more about Global Exchange Reality Tour’s very special opportunity at Rights of Nature Tour of India with Vandana Shiva.

Read Global Exchange’s Community Rights Program Director Shannon Biggs blog about the first Rights of Nature trip that took place in November 2013.

Planting Seeds with Vandana Shiva & Prince Charles: Reality Tour to India’s Earth University

Planting Seeds with Vandana Shiva & Prince Charles: Reality Tour to India’s Earth University 2013

Laudato Si’ – A story of right relationships

By Patricia Siemen Global Sisters Report, A project of National Catholic Report, July 7, 2015

Sr. Pat Siemen participates in the Earth Rights march in Durban, South Africa during the COPs 17 U.N. climate conference December 2011.

“It’s all a question of story,” wrote Thomas Berry. “We are in trouble now because we do not have a good story .. . . and the old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. We have not yet learned the new story.”

Pope Francis’s long-awaited encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si tells a story and issues a call to all people to act on behalf of our common home. It offers much more than a treatise on the environment and climate change; it sets a cosmological context of belonging to creation as relatives, as brothers and sisters (11). It calls for an ecological spirituality and conversion (216), and offers a moral framework for both individual and collective response to care for our common home.

As an Earth lawyer and Catholic sister striving to awaken people to the peril of Earth’s desecration and the promise of acting as a single community of life, I hear Francis’s story with gratitude and relief.

Francis weaves a story of integral ecology (137).

“. . . [W]e have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate the questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (49).

He emphasizes the interrelationship between environmental destruction, anthropocentric domination of nature, disregard for people who are poor and vulnerable among us, extinction of species and the plunder of an unrestrained global economic system. Pollution and climate change, depletion of fresh water, biodiversity loss and disregard for human communities are the consequence “of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production” (32).

Francis connects the value of human life with the value of the Earth community which sustains all life. “It is not enough . . . to think of different species merely as potential ‘resources’ to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves” (33).

While sliding over the consequences of overpopulation (50), Francis boldly identifies the interrelated, causal dynamics that are destroying the fabric of our common home.

I was engaged, surprised, grateful and often in tears as I read Francis’s epic story. It was encouraging to discover how closely it aligns with the sacred story that guides me and the work of Earth jurisprudence that is rooted in kinship.

Read Sister Pat’s complete article …

“Laudato si” – A 21st Century Manifesto for Earth Democracy

By Vandana Shiva – L’Huffington Post Italia, 19 June 2015 reposted at Seed Freedom in English on June 20, 2015 at Seed Freedom

Pope Francis

Most reports of Pope Francis’s Encyclical in the press before the formal launch yesterday reduced this path breaking document with 246 paras on the contemporary ecological crisis and human crisis to the 4 paras on climate change (para 23-26). But Laudato Si is much wider and much deeper.

It is first of all a call for a change in consciousness and a world view from the dominant paradigm of the domination over nature and its destruction, to one where we see the Earth as our Mother, as our common home.

The ‘Laudato Si’ opens with St Francis’ prayer– “Praise be to you my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs”.

This resonates so deeply with the Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiv Kutumkan, the Earth Family.

It resonates with the contemporary movement for the Rights of Mother Earth.

It resonates with cultures and faiths across the world. The encyclical is an invitation to “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of the planet” (paragraph 14) and this includes biodiversity, air, water, oceans.

It is clear that “to protect our common home we need to bring the whole family together” (13). The Encyclical goes on to say “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which God has endowed her with. We have come to see ourselves as her lord and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the soil, in the water, in the air, and in all forms of life” (2).

More …

Mother Earth Cries Out & We Must Listen and Act Boldly

–Reflecting on Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment

Blog by Osprey Orielle Lake, WECAN International Co-Founder & Executive Director, June 22, 2015  WECAN International

Pope Francis’s new encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, is a powerful tool for the climate movement, and has created a critical space inviting other world leaders to step up and take bold action to address the root causes of the crisis we face. We must recognize however, that this is not just a tool for the movement, but also a tool of the movement, with statements echoing years of peoples organizing worldwide.

Pope Francis calls not just for climate action, but also for climate justice, recognizing that human poverty and vulnerability is intimately tied to environmental degradation. He espouses an integral ecology that embraces the deep interdependence of the Earth, human society, and the economy. The encyclical is also a call for a fundamental shift in our collective consciousness and understanding of the world and our place in it- requiring movement from a global society of destruction and consumption, to one of care and connection to our collective home, our Mother Earth.

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted,” Pope Francis writes.

Critically, Francis explains that real change means bringing together three worldviews that have been divided for too long in modern societies: scientific knowledge, spirituality, and Indigenous understanding. He calls for the voices of the world’s Indigenous peoples to be at the center of all climate discussions and actions, recognizing that we have so much to learn from these cultures that have maintained their connection to the land. The Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network could not agree more, as we are advocating for action based on four Guiding Principles: Rights of Women, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rights of Nature and Rights of Future Generations.

Pope Francis does not waiver in his criticism of the corporate interests driving environmental degradation, nor the politicians facilitating their destruction. He calls for immediate action to keep fossil fuels in the ground, a bold transition to a clean energy future, and climate solutions free of inappropriate market mechanisms.

The encyclical opens the door further to addressing the urgency of global warming and touches on how this crisis is giving us the opportunity (or perhaps rather forcing us) to entirely redesign our economic systems and ways of living with the Earth and each other.

Read Osprey Orielle Lake’s complete article at Women Speak: Climate Justice and Solutions.

Seeding a transformed future

by Patricia Siemen May 12, 2015

Dr. Mira Shiva, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Sr. Pat Siemen. (Photo provided by Patricia Siemen)

Dr. Mira Shiva, Dr. Vandana Shiva and Sr. Pat Siemen. (Photo provided by Patricia Siemen)

Last month I returned from my first visit to India. I was invited to lead a week’s workshop on “Earth Democracy: Defending the Rights of People and Mother Earth” with Dr. Vandana Shiva and her sister Dr. Mira Shiva, a physician and leader in public health. The course took place at the Navdanya Biodiversity Learning Center at Bija Vidapeeth University in Dehradun, India.

Dehradun is nestled in the Doon Valley in northern India, at the foothills of the Himalayas, situated between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers. Eight of us traveled from New Delhi to Dehradun by train for five hours to reach the Earth University learning site. It is comprised of a communal living compound and 50 acres of farm land growing only plants from native seeds. Navdanya is organized as a Gandhian ashram with a commitment to non-violence and a daily schedule of meditation and communal work – preparing the meals, cleaning the common spaces and working in the garden. The teaching sessions are often held outside if the weather is amenable.

Teaching with Dr. Vandana Shiva, an internationally renowned environmentalist, physicist, author, speaker and seed-saver par excellence, is a high honor. She and I first met in 2010 when I invited her to lead a conference on Earth Rights; Human Rights at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law where I teach. We reconnected in 2013 in Quito, Ecuador, during the World’s First Peoples’ Tribunal on the Rights of Mother Earth, which was sponsored by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. It was while we were in Ecuador that Vandana invited me to teach a week’s course with her in India.

Read Pat’s complete inspiring article Seeding a transformed future at GlobalSistersReport

Law, Environment, and Religion with Linda Sheehan

A Communion Of Subjects: Law, Environment, and Religion, with Linda Sheehan

Yale University hosted the second installment of “A Communion of Subjects: Law, Environment, and Religion” which features an interview with Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of the Earth Law Center. Linda explains how a framework based on the inherent rights of nature to exist, thrive, and evolve can galvanize the transformation of environmental law and wider society – delivering necessary protections for both humans and ecosystems.

Interview conducted by Dena Adler (Yale Law School ’17, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies ’17) and Andrew Doss (Yale Divinity School ’16).

For background and context related to the interview read the following excerpt from Yale Daily News:

Div, Law and Forestry schools team up for first time

For the first time, faculty from Yale Law School, Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies are offering a course together.

John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, who have dual research appointments at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Divinity School, will be co-teaching the course “Law, Environment and Religion” with Law School professor Doug Kysar. Tucker said the class was designed as a collaboration between the three schools because each discipline provides a piece of the knowledge needed to understand environmental issues, but on their own fail to give students a comprehensive analysis.

“Environmental issues need to be solved and responded to by many disciplines,” Tucker said.

Linda Sheehan Yale InterviewThe course will feature readings from figures who have worked within the overlap of these three fields and discussions with those authors, including William Reilly, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Linda Sheehan, the executive director at Earth Law Center. Students will also conduct podcast interviews with these guest speakers, which will be posted on Yale’s iTunes University site.

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/01/20/div-law-and-forestry-schools-team-up-for-first-time/

Finally Being Heard: The Great Barrier Reef and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal

By Michelle Maloney, PhD, Australian Earth Laws Alliance

In January 2014, the newly created International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature and Mother Earth (‘the Tribunal’) sat for the first time in Quito, Ecuador. The Tribunal, created by international civil society network ‘The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature’, admitted nine cases, including a claim on behalf of the Great Barrier Reef. Given the Tribunal has emerged from civil society rather than state-centred international law and given Australia’s legal system does not recognise the intrinsic rights of plants, animals, or ecosystems to exist, what possible benefit does this Tribunal offer the Great Barrier Reef? In this paper, I outline the creation and ongoing hearings of the International Tribunal and suggest that like many “people’s tribunals” before it, the Rights of Nature Tribunal offers a powerful alternative narrative to that offered by western legal systems regarding environmental destruction. It is also has the potential to play a role in transforming existing law and offers a welcome, cathartic contribution to the burgeoning field of Earth jurisprudence.

Great Barrier Reef Australian turtle

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Finally Being Heard: The Great Barrier Reef and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal is published in the Griffith Journal of Law & Human Dignity Vol 3 (1) 2015, Griffth University, Queensland, Australia.  In the article, Michelle Maloney defines Earth jurisprudence and the Rights of Nature and situates the International Rights of Nature Tribunal within the work of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature and the broader context of the ecological crisis. She outlines the Great Barrier Reef case, which the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (‘AELA’) took to the International Tribunal in Quito and progressed in October 2014, by convening a Regional Chamber of the International Tribunal in Australia.

She argues that like many “people’s tribunals” before it, the Rights of Nature Tribunal offers a powerful alternative narrative to that currently offered by the mainstream legal system regarding environmental destruction. It is also pregnant with the promise of transforming existing law and offers a welcome, cathartic contribution to the burgeoning field of Earth jurisprudence.

Read the full article at Finally Being Heard: The Great Barrier Reef and the International Rights of Nature Tribunal.

*Michelle Maloney is the National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance and is also currently working at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, Barry University Law School, Florida USA. She can be contacted on convenor@earthlaws.org.au.

Natalia Greene on Politics of Rights of Nature in Ecuador

Natalia Greene was interviewed by Melissa Arias, F&ES ’15 of the Yale Center for Environmental Law & Policy.

Notes on her presentation:

As part of a major restructuring of the country’s legal framework, in 2008 Ecuador adopted a new Constitution by means of a national referendum. The 2008 Constitution – the country’s 20th – had a special component that made it different from any other constitution worldwide: it was the first Constitution to grant essential rights to Nature. Under Article 71 of the 2008 Constitution, “Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.” Under this framework, Nature becomes a subject of rights and “any person will be able to demand the recognition of the rights of nature before public organisms.”

Rights of nature, while having a long history in the ethical practices of a variety of societies, has recently become a matter of state policy in Ecuador and Bolivia, which have enshrined “rights of nature” in law (in Bolivia) and in the state constitution (Ecuador). Natalia Greene, a participant in the Ecuadorian constitutional process, traces the uses and misuses of the rights of nature in Ecuador since the passing of the constitution in 2008. Further, her talk explores the issues of securing rights as compared with securing livelihoods through non-legal means.