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When Rivers Are Granted Legal Status as Persons

Sierra Club history plays a role in recently revived Rights of Nature movement
SIERRA, The national magazine of the Sierra Club
By Diane Covington-Carter | May 9 2017

In March, the Whanganui River, which winds through the North Island of New Zealand, became the world's first natural resource to be granted

In March, the Whanganui River, which winds through the North Island of New Zealand, became the world’s first natural resource to be granted “legal personhood.” (Photos courtesy of Visit Whanganui.)

Members of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori tribes have always regarded themselves as part of the universe—at one with and equal to the mountains, rivers, and seas. On March 15, 2017, after 140 years of negotiation, they helped a long-revered river, the Whanganui, gain “legal status as a person.” This means that polluting or damaging the river—New Zealand’s third longest—is now legally equivalent to harming a human.

The Whanganui River was the world’s first natural resource granted its own legal identity, with the rights, duties, and liabilities of a legal person. This breakthrough legislation effectively brought the longest-running litigation in New Zealand’s history to an end, prompting the hundreds of Maori who had gathered in the gallery of Parliament to break into a jubilant, 10-minute-long song of celebration.

Read the full article at  When Rivers Are Granted Legal Status as Persons …
Sierra Club history plays a role in recently revived Rights of Nature movement, SIERRA, May 9, 2017