World’s First Successful ‘Rights of Nature’ Lawsuit

by Norie Huddle

In 2010, Norie Huddle and her husband David suddenly heard dynamite explosions near their beautiful property along the Vilcabamba River of Ecuador. “We ran upstream to investigate, suspecting that the road crew might be blasting massive rock cliffs on the far side of the road across from our farm.”  With a small video camera, they caught construction workers pushing a gigantic boulder into the river.  Further up stream, they filmed the crew pushing freshly dynamited debris into the river.

Hours later, their lawyer Carlos Bravo stared at the photos is shocked silence before finally asking How do you want to sue them.

“There’s that new law in the 2008 Constitution, the one protecting the Rights of Nature,” I said. “We want to use that one.”

Thus began the world’s first case based on the Rights of Nature — in this case the Vilcabamba River — that was to be won in a court of law.

Read Norie’s vivid account of the first successful “Rights of Nature Lawsuit in “Kosmos – The Journal for Global Citizens Creating the New Civilization, Fall/Winter 2013.

Farmland in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Bob Winsett, Corbis

Farmland in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. Bob Winsett, Corbis