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Archive for Linda Sheehan

Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature – IUCN World Conservation Congress

IUCN-RoN-Declaration-sponsors

Join Us for a Workshop on

“Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature.”

September 4th, 8:30-10:30 a.m., Room 318A, Hawaii Convention Center, Session 10223

Introductory Remarks by Justice Antonio H. Benjamin, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law

Why Should You Attend?

IUCN-Earth-Center-Law-workshop-vertical1) In 2012 the IUCN adopted Resolution 100, “Incorporation of the Rights of Nature as the organizational focal point in IUCN’s decision making.” This Resolution calls nature’s rights to become a “fundamental and absolute key element for planning, action and assessment” for the IUCN.

2) Resolution 100 further urges the IUCN to promote a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature.

3) Now is the time to act on this IUCN Resolution and shift our laws and actions from an anthropocentric to an Earth-centered worldview and ethic.

4) Laws derived from the Earth that recognize and protect nature’s rights can help reverse the damage to the natural world, as well as prevent further damage. Such laws also support human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights, as detailed in Earth Law Center’s report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: http://bit.ly/ELCCoVR

5) Over 845,000 people worldwide already support the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Attend this Workshop to learn more about how you can take part in the fast-growing rights of nature movement!

Speakers: Linda Sheehan, Earth Law Center, USA (Rights of Nature); Sostine Namanya, NAPE, Uganda (Earth Jurisprudence); Betsan Martin, Int’l Alliance of Responsible and Sustainable Societies, New Zealand; (Responsibilities to Nature) Florence Clap, IUCN France (Ecological Reparations)

For more information, contact Linda Sheehan, lsheehan@earthlaw.org, or visit https://portals.iucn.org/congress/session/10223

Click for a printable  IUCN Earth-Centered Law and Regulation for Safeguarding Nature workshop flier.

Learn more about the proposed IUCN Universal Declaration for the Rights of Nature

To sign the Intervention urging the IUCN to implement Rights of Nature, and adopt a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature, please send your organization’s name and logo to mbender@earthlaw.org.

Related events of interest:
Workshop 10217, Protection of Sacred Natural Sites, Sept. 4, 11am-1pm
Workshop 10283, Ecologically Informed Global Ethics and Env’l Law, Sept. 2, 5-7pm
Workshop 10300, Environmental Rule of Law, Sept. 3, 2:30-4:30pm

Economics for Earth’s Rights

Linda Sheehan, Earth Law CenterLinda Sheehan,  Executive Director ~ Earth Law Center, writing for New Economy Law Center, Vermont Law School

“In parallel with the recently concluded climate talks in Paris, I was fortunate to take part in several initiatives to raise awareness of the fundamental flaws in our legal and economic systems. These flaws are the driving force behind climate change, species extinctions, drying waterways and other, serious threats to the integrity of natural systems.

Put briefly, our legal and economic systems drive nature’s destruction by treating it merely as property to be exploited and degraded, rather than as an integral ecological partner with its own rights to exist and thrive. Even our best attempts at addressing global environmental harms place nature within the context of incessant economic growth, undermining nature’s protection.

Fighting for Our Shared Future Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature's RightsFor example, the new U.N. climate change agreement uses the terms “economy” or “economic” 26 times, yet it only mentions Earth once, and Nature not at all.[i] The agreement’s focus unfortunately is not on creating law and economic systems that benefit the Earth. Its focus is on contorting the law to benefit the same economic system that is destroying the Earth. This mythology pretends the natural world is a dead resource, merely an element of commerce and trade. It seems strange that we must say this, but we cannot live on a dead world. Moreover, we are not human on a degraded world; we are less than human. We must reject such an impoverished future.”

To call attention to this defective and injurious worldview, Earth Law Center released a new report in Paris demonstrating how our legal and economic systems increasingly violate basic human rights as well as nature’s own, inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. This report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights, details 100 examples of such “co-violations” of fundamental rights around the world and offers recommendations for change.[ii] Recommendations include recognition in law of the inherent rights of nature (as has been done in several countries and numerous U.S. cities and towns),[iii] immediate protection of the most vulnerable human and nature’s rights defenders (many of whom have been killed for their work),[iv] and implementation of economic alternatives, from new progress indicators to an overarching shift to ecological economics.[v]

Also in Paris, Earth Law Center acted as co-organizer of, and Co-Prosecutor for, the third International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature.[vi] This citizen-created Tribunal provided people a voice to testify publicly as to the destruction of the Earth – destruction that governments and corporations not only allow, but in some cases encourage. The Tribunal featured internationally renowned lawyers and leaders for Earth justice, who heard cases addressing issues such as climate change, GMOs, fracking, extractive industries, and other sources of nature’s rights violations.[vii] The Tribunal offered judgments and recommendations for the Earth’s protection and restoration based on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Read complete article at Economics for Earth’s Rights

[i] U.N. Conference of the Parties, 21st Session, “Adoption of the Paris Agreement,” FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1 (12 Dec. 2015); available at: www.unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf.

[ii] ELC’s December 2015 report Fighting for Our Shared Future is available at: http://bit.ly/1Ng3VyQ.

[iii] See http://www.earthlawcenter.org/literature/ and http://www.earthlawcenter.org/earth-community/ for more information.

[iv] As described in ELC’s report and elsewhere, the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has found that “rights defenders are “increasingly branded ‘enemies of the state’ over development projects.” See: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13912&LangID=E.

[v] For example, Article 3(2)(l) of the 2010 Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, adopted by representatives of 140 countries in Bolivia, recognizes that we must “promote economic systems that are in harmony with Mother Earth and in accordance with the rights recognized in this Declaration.” Available at: http://therightsofnature.org/universal-declaration/.

Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights.

Fighting for Our Shared Future Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature's Rights ELC ReportBy Linda Sheehan and Grant Wilson,
Earth Law Center (ELC)

Available online at: http://bit.ly/1Ng3VyQ.

Paris, France—December 3, 2015, San Francisco Bay Area-based Earth Law Center (ELC) released a comprehensive report detailing “co-violations” of nature’s rights and human rights worldwide. “Co-violations” occur when governments, industries, or others violate both the rights of nature and human rights with the same action.

ELC’s groundbreaking report, Fighting for Our Shared Future: Protecting Both Human Rights and Nature’s Rights, and associated map are being released concurrent with the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

The report examines 100 examples of rights co-violations worldwide, and it delves into four case studies as examples: mining for iron ore, copper, and numerous other substances in Lapland, Scandinavia (“Europe’s Last Wilderness”); release of industrial pollution in Sarnia, Ontario (home to the severely impacted Aamjiwnaang First Nation); open-pit copper and gold mining in the magnificent Cordillera del Cóndor, Ecuador (the “Mirador Mine,” which would devastate local indigenous communities); and the rapid disappearance of the formerly-massive Lake Chad in Africa due to over-diversion and climate change.

As discussed, the natural world has inherent rights to exist, thrive and evolve. Humans do not “give” inherent rights to nature. Like fundamental human rights, nature’s inherent rights exist because nature exists. However, our laws ignore these core rights, and we and the Earth are paying an increasingly heavy price for that mistake. For example, scientists have found that “[w]ithout concrete, immediate actions, it is extremely likely that Earth’s life-support systems will be irretrievably damaged by 2050.” Defenders of environmental rights, however, are being harassed, arrested and even killed for their activities to prevent this damage.

“Across the globe, we injure both people and ecosystems by treating the natural world as property to fuel mythically infinite economic growth,” states ELC Executive Director Linda Sheehan. “These injuries increasingly represent simultaneous violations, or ‘co-violations,’ of human rights and nature’s rights. We must reverse this trend by evolving our laws and courts to recognize that our well-being is inextricably linked with the Earth’s.”

Among other conclusions, the report finds that:

  • In over half of the cases compiled, the state was implicated as a perpetrator of rights co-violations, either alone or with industry. This finding is consistent with United Nations studies.
  • Over 60 percent of the co-violations compiled involved extractive industries and energy production, which accounted for almost 60 percent of the environmental defender killings reported in these cases.
  • The sources of co-violations are rarely addressed adequately, if they are addressed at all.
  • We cannot protect human rights without also addressing the planet’s own right to a healthy climate.

The report also highlights specific solutions, including:

  • Adoption at the local, national and international levels of enforceable laws recognizing the inherent rights of nature, as well as U.N. adoption of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth (UDRME).
  • Creation of courts to hear and rule on nature’s rights violations, including co-violations with human rights, with swift implementation in the interim of International Rights of Nature Tribunal judgments.
  • Establishment of global and national moratoriums on particular sources of co-violations.
  • Provision of emergency protection to at-risk environmental defenders.
  • Adoption of an enforceable international climate change agreement reflecting the right to a healthy climate.
  • Other actions consistent with our responsibility under the UDRME for “living in harmony with Mother Earth.”

# # #

Linda Sheehan is Executive Director of Earth Law Center, San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA where she advocates for recognition of nature’s rights in law. She brings 20 years of law and policy experience to ELC, including numerous successes in enforcing and funding environmental laws. For her efforts in “fight[ing] pollution of the Pacific and the streams and rivers that flow into it,” Linda was recognized as a “California Coastal Hero.” Linda is a member of the Commission on Environmental Law in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and teaches Earth Law as Summer Faculty at Vermont Law School.
Grant Wilson is Outreach and Policy Coordinator of Earth Law Center.  Grant Wilson has worked to advance environmental law and policy campaigns in the United States and throughout the world. Grant has published law journal articles including “Deepwater Horizon and the Law of the Sea: Was the Cure Worse than the Disease?” and “Murky Waters: Ambiguous International Law for Ocean Fertilization and Other Geoengineering.” Grant earned a degree in Environmental Policy from Huxley College of the Environment at Western Washington University, and a J.D. with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon.

Prepared with Yale’s Environmental Protection Clinic, the report analyzes 100 examples worldwide of “co-violations” of human rights and nature’s rights and provides recommendations for change.

Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change.

Edited by Shannon Biggs and Tom BK Goldtooth

RONME-Sowing-Seeds

Movement Rights, Indigenous Environmental Network and Global Exchange are proud to announce the release of their new report for the Paris climate talks! Edited by Shannon Biggs and Tom BK Goldtooth, this report, “Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change” is a collaboration between Movement Rights, Indigenous Environmental Network, and Global Exchange. Providing both a critique of the UNFCCC process and an alternative system of environmental protection, the report includes contributions by Dr. Vandana Shiva (India), Maude Barlow (Canada), Pablo Solon (Bolivia), Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Linda Sheehan (USA), Osprey Orielle Lake (USA) and many other luminaries.

Please share and download complete report here: http://www.movementrights.org/resources/RONME-SowingSeeds.pdf

The Earth Rights movement and the road beyond Paris

Preface Article by Tom B.K. Goldtooth and Shannon Biggs, editors

L’humanité et la nature ne font qu’un. ةدحاو ةعيبطلاو ةيناسنإلا . In the wake of the violence in Paris, Beirut, Syria, Iraq and around the world, we are reminded that not only are we one people—but humanity and all nature are one. It is time to seek peace and justice for humanity and Mother Earth.

While billed asthe most important climate meeting ever held, the next generation will not look back on the Paris COP 21 as the historic moment governments took decisive action on climate change.

The modern world is removed from nature. A world without a living knowledge of its spiritual relationship and responsibilities to the creative principles of the natural laws of Mother Earth, results in our planet become property, without a soul, to be owned and sold. Nearly everywhere, the legal paradigm of laws protects the ownership of nature, so it is not surprising that the UN climate negotiations are rooted in the continued privatization of ecosystems and putting a price tag on the processes of the natural world.

The predictable failure of the Paris UNFCCC negotiations has been 20 years in the making. The climate Ponzi scheme of trading of air, water, trees, soil, and biodiversity along with false solutions of carbon capture, genetically modified organisms, geoengineering, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, agrofuels, fracking, nuclear projects and energy generation from incineration—all these will do more harm than good to Mother Earth. As Nigerian activist Nnimo Bassey has said, “The outcome is already known: a  package of non-binding promises and non-commitments. It will be another carbon stock exchange.”

Changing our relation to the sacredness of Mother Earth

Rather than mourn the loss of international political leadership on climate change to the peddlers of extractive capitalism, its time to acknowledge where the real power to create change lies, and what Paris might be remembered for. The next generation could look back on Paris as the time when grassroots movements became the real and rightful leaders on climate with searing critiques of capitalism and endless growth and a transformative solutions based on equity, and living in balance with natural laws.

Climate change itself is the Earth’s demand for human system change; it is a wake up call to shake off old ways that got us here, and to create vibrant local living economies respectful of the living cycles of Mother Earth and Father Sky. It means shifting the legal landscape that has propped up industrialization by treating ecosystems as property to be owned and destroyed.

Rights of nature define legal rights for ecosystems “to exist, flourish and regenerate their natural capacities.” These laws challenge the status of nature as mere property and while not stopping development, recognizing legal rights of nature stops the kind of development that interferes with the existence and vitality of ecosystems. It provides a legal framework for an ethical and spiritual relationship to the Earth and the Sky. And its been growing at the local and national level around the world. In the last decade, three countries and dozens of communities have passed laws recognizing “legal standing” for ecosystems.

This report “Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Sowing seeds of resistance, love and change” isn’t just a challenge to the UN climate framework. It is a call for Earth’s real revolution, a reawakening of the Sacred, and a legal framework to support real system change based on the inalienable rights of nature– of Mother Earth—of which our own human rights and the fate of humanity cannot be separated.
L’humanité et la nature ne font qu’un.

About the editors

Shannon Biggs is the co-founder and Executive Director of Movement Rights, advancing legal rights for communities, indigenous peoples and ecosystems. She has been a senior staffer at Global Exchange and the International Forum on Globalization, and is the co-author and editor of two books including “The Rights of Nature, the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Nature.” She is also a founder of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. She holds an MSc. from the London School of Economics (LSE) in Economics and the Politics of Empire.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth is the Executive Director of The Indigenous Environmental Network, a network of indigenous communities worldwide.  He is a leader of environmental and climate justice issues and the rights of Indigenous peoples. He is a board member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. In 2015 he received the Gandhi Peace Award, and is also co-and producer of an award-winning documentary Drumbeat For Mother Earth, which addresses the effects of bio-accumulative chemicals on indigenous communities.