Rights of Nature: The Foundation for Sustainability and Signing Events

The Global Alliance for Rights of Nature is planning to co-host a series of Rights of Nature: The Foundation for Sustainability panel discussions and Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth Signing Events at the Earth Summit Rio+20 and the People’s Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For a PDF invitation click Rio+20 Rights of Nature Invite.
For a calendar of events visit Rio+20 Rights of Nature Calendar.

Rights of Nature: the Foundation for Sustainability

Panel Dialogue &

Universal Declaration for Rights of Mother Earth Signing Event

1.  Rio+20 Inside Event

RioCentro T-3 (Main Rio+20 Venue)

Sunday, June 17 9:30am – 11:00am

Avenida Salvador Allende, 6555 –
Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro – RJ

2.  Peoples Summit

Monday June 18 9am-11am Flamingo Park – Tenda 12

A distinguished international panel of legal, social and environmental leaders will present the case for Rights of Nature as the inherent and necessary foundation for sustainable development and invite participants from around the world to sign the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Human communities are inextricably intertwined with the natural communities that sustain them.  Yet, modern day legal systems fail to recognize our human interdependence with the natural world.  Our legal systems treat the natural world as property to be exploited and degraded, rather than as an integral ecological partner with its own rights to exist and thrive. While our laws focus on the rights and needs of people to flourish, they pay relatively little attention to the same rights on the part of the natural world. Such systems lead to dangerously unbalanced, unsustainable relationships among humans and Mother Earth.

After 40 years of environmental protection laws, our modern legal systems have failed to prevent the increasingly grave threats of climate change, degradation of earth’s ecosystems, and the growing dislocation of humans and other species.

To achieve sustainable development even at its most rudimentary level, the time has come for society to restructure the fundamental framework of our governance systems as they relate to the relationship of humans and our environment.

The panel will present why a new framework for governance is necessary and is part of a bigger shift required in society today ─ a shift that will require that modern laws and policies comply with the laws of the Earth, and a way of living which maintains the health and integrity of the whole Earth Community.

A growing movement is committed to creating a system of jurisprudence that treats nature and Mother Earth as a fundamental, rights bearing entity.  Rooted in traditional indigenous wisdom which grants equal rights to nature and honors the interrelationship of all life, a new paradigm grounded in the notion of living in harmony with all life is emerging.

Invited panelists and moderators included:


Cormac Cullinan is a director of the South African environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates Inc, and Chief Executive Officer of EnAct International, an environmental governance consultancy. His Wild Law A Manifesto for Earth Justice has played a significant role inspiring a growing international movement to recognize rights for Nature.   At the invitation of Bolivia, Cullinan led the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Cullinan currently sits on the Executive Committee of the Alliance.

Tom B.K. Goldtooth is the Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and an Organizing Partner for the Indigenous Peoples Major Group of the UN.  A social change activist within the Native American community for over 30 years, he is an international environmental and economic justice leader. Mr. Goldtooth co-produced an award winning documentary film, Drumbeat For Mother Earth, which addresses the affects of bio-accumulative chemicals on indigenous peoples, and is active with many environmental and social justice organizations besides IEN.

Natalia Greene, Ecuadorian environment activist, coordinates the program on “Political Plurinationality and the Rights of Nature” at Fundación Pachamama in Ecuador and is the President of CEDENMA, Ecuador’s national coordinating entity for environmental NGOs. Greene was a key figure in the effort to include the recognition of rights for nature in Ecuador’s constitution.  She serves on the Executive Committee of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

Linda Sheehan, environmental law attorney, is Executive Director of Earth Law Center. Formerly Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, Sheehan was recognized as a 2009 “California Coastal Hero” by Sunset Magazine and the California Coastal Commission.  She is a contributing author to Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence.

•  Dr. Vandana Shiva, a prominent global advocate for Rights of Mother Earth, is a world-renowned scientist, philosopher, environmental activist, and author. She is the founder of Navdanya, a women centered movement for the protection of biological and cultural diversity.  Navdanya started the Earth democracy movement in India, which provides an alternative worldview in which humans are embedded in the Earth Family, we are connected to each other through love, compassion, and ecological responsibility and economic justice. Dr. Shiva is the author of a number of books among them are: Earth Democracy, Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, and Soil Not Oil.

•  Pablo Solon, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South, international speaker and advocate for Rights of Mother Earth, is former Ambassador to the UN for Bolivia and spearheaded successful resolutions on the Human Right to Water, International Mother Earth Day, Harmony with Nature, and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. He was very active in climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC, and helped organize the World People’s Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2010. Solón was named 2011 international Human Rights Award winner by Global Exchange.

•  Shannon Biggs is Director of the Community Rights program at Global Exchange and co-chair International Advocacy Working Group, Global Alliance for Rights of Nature. She co-authored Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots and The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

•  Osprey Orielle Lake is a lifelong advocate of environmental justice and societal transformation. She is the Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus (WECC) and an International Advocate for the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. Her book, Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature (White Cloud Press) is a 2011 Nautilus Book Award winner.