The inception of the movement

Rights of Nature timeline

Learn all about how the movement took off and its key milestones and latest updates on this timeline compilation.

1972

The Southern California Law Review published law professor Christopher Stone’s seminal article, “Should trees have standing – toward legal rights for natural objects.” Stone described how under the existing structure of law, nature was considered right-less, having no legally recognized rights to defend and enforce.

1989

Professor Roderick Nash published The Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics in which he explains how, throughout history, the right-less – slaves, women, others – have struggled to expand the body of legal rights to include themselves. Nash provides a context for how and why the body of rights is moving in the direction of expanding to include nature.

2001

Thomas Berry published The Origin, Differentiation, and Role of Rights in which he described how all members of the Earth community possess inherent rights.

2003

Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice, was published. Authored by South African attorney Cormac Cullinan, with Thomas Berry, he opens up a new front on the Rights of Nature – adding a significant spiritual and moral element to the legal and historic discussions begun by Stone and Nash.

2006

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) worked with the small community of Tamaqua Borough, in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, as it sought to ban waste corporations from dumping toxic sewage sludge in the community. CELDF assisted Tamaqua to draft a Rights of Nature law that banned sludging as a violation of the Rights of Nature. With the vote of the Borough Council, Tamaqua became the very first place in the U.S., and the world, to recognize the Rights of Nature in law.

2008

In September, the people of Ecuador voted in support of the proposed Constitution; hence, Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize the Rights of Nature in its national constitution.

  • On April 22nd, the UN General Assembly, at its 63rd session proclaimed 22 April “International Mother Earth Day” (A/RES/63/278), and the Bolivian president, Evo Morales Ayma delivered a statement at the General Assembly on the declaration of International Mother Earth Day (A/63/PV.80)
  • In April, Bolivia held the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth which resulted in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. Following the conference, Bolivia submitted the declaration to the U.N. General Assembly for its consideration.
  • In August, the First Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/65/314).
  • The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature was formed at a meeting held in Patate, Ecuador, with founding members from Ecuador, the U.S., Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
  • In November, an ordinance recognizing the Rights of Nature was passed unanimously by the City Council of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as part of a ban on shale gas drilling and fracking. This is the first major city in the U.S. to codify the legally enforceable Rights of Nature.
  • Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly passed the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth.
  • In December, the UN General Assembly, at its 65th session, the second Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/65/164) was adopted. It requested the Secretary-General to host the first Interactive Dialogue to commemorate International Mother Earth Day, issue a Second Report on Harmony with Nature, and start developing the Harmony with Nature website.
  • The first Rights of Nature lawsuits were decided in Ecuador under the country’s constitutional provisions, upholding the rights of ecosystems. The first case, heard by the Provincial Court of Justice of Loja, featured the Vilcabamba River as the plaintiff. Thus, the river itself was able to defend its own rights to ‘exist’ and ‘maintain itself’ – as it sought to stop a government highway construction project that was interfering with the natural flow and health of the river. The court ruled that the project be stopped.
  • The UN General Assembly, at its 66th session, adopted the third Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/66/204).
  • In August, the Second Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature (A/66/302) was published.
  • A campaign was launched in Nepal to advance the Rights of Nature.
  • Bolivia adopted its Law Under the Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well. Passed by Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly, the law recognizes the Rights of Mother Earth in statutory law.
  • The national government of New Zealand reached an agreement with the Whanganui River iwi, and local Maori people, to recognize a legal persona for the Whanganui River.
  • In August, the Third Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/67/317).
  • From June 20th to 22nd, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) outcome document “The Future We Want”, paragraph 39 on Harmony with Nature mentions Rights of Nature.
  • In April the second Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day was held. The Dialogue discussed “Scientific findings on the impacts of human activities on the functioning of the Earth System”.
  • A campaign was launched in India by Ganga Action Parivar and the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance-India to recognize the rights of the Ganga River and drafted the National Ganga River Rights Act. New Delhi declined this petition.
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) adopted a policy to incorporate the Rights of Nature in its decision-making processes.
  • In December, the UN General Assembly, at its 67th session, adopted the fourth Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/67/214).
  • The campaign for the European Citizens Initiative for the Rights of Nature was launched. This initiative allows citizens to present proposals to the European government for consideration.
  • The UN General Assembly, at its 68th session, adopted the fifth Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/68/216).
  • The fourth Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/68/325).
  • The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature sponsored an International Gathering on Rights of Nature and held the world’s first Rights of Nature Tribunal in Quito, Ecuador presided by Vandana Shiva (Navdanya-India).

Judges: Tom Goldtooth, (Dine’/Dakota, IEN-U.S.); Alberto Acosta (Ecuador); Elsie Monge (Ecuador); Tantoo Cardinale (U.S.); Atossa Soltani (U.S./Iran); Blanca Chancoso (Kichwa -Ecuador); Julio César Trujillo (Ecuador); Cormac Cullinan (South Africa).

Cases: Chevron-Texaco (Ecuador); 2) BP spill (U.S.); 3) Yasuní (Ecuador); 4) Great Coral Reef (Australia); 5) Condor Mirador (Ecuador); 6) Fracking (U.S.), 7) Persecution of Defenders of Mother Earth (Ecuador) 8) GMOs and 9) Climate Change.

  • The New Zealand Parliament passed the Te Urewera Act, finalizing a settlement between the Tuhoe people and the government. The Act recognizes the Te Urewera – a former national park, of more than 2,000 square kilometers – as having “legal recognition in its own right”.
  • The Constitution of the State of Guerrero, in Mexico, amended on 30 June 2014, recognized in its Article 2 the Rights of Nature.  More information.
  • The Colorado Community Rights Network in the U.S. proposed a state constitutional amendment that would authorize communities to establish the Rights of Nature in law.
  • The UN General Assembly, as its 69th session, adopted the sixth Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/69/224).
  • The fifth Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/69/322).
  • In December, the Second International Rights of Nature Tribunal was launched in Lima during the COP20, presided by Alberto Acosta (Ecuador).

Judges: Raúl Prada Alcoreza, (Bolivia); Hugo Blanco, (Peru); Tantoo Cardinal, (Canada); Blanca Chancoso, (Ecuador); Tom Goldtooth, (U.S.); Francois Houtart, (Belgium); Osprey Orielle Lake, (U.S.); Edgardo Lander, (Venezuela); Veronika Mendoza, (Peru); Rocío Silva Santiesteban, (Peru); Atossa Soltani, (U.S.); Terisa Turner (Canada).
Cases: Yasuní (Ecuador); Chevron-Texaco (Ecuador); BP (Gulf of Mexico); Fracking (U.S./Bolivia); Condor Mirador (Ecuador); Conga – Cajamarca Mine (Peru); Climate Change and False Solutions; Great Barrier Reef (Australia); Defenders of the Earth– Bagua (Peru); 4 Basins- Corrientes (Peru); Belo Monte (Brazil); and REDD.

  • Sweden’s Riksdag considered a motion to create a commission to prepare a proposal on how the Rights of Nature can be incorporated into Swedish law.
  • In May, Pope Francis launched the encyclical Laudato Si, “On Care For Our Common Home” which critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, and laments environmental degradation and climate change. The call that he makes for a unified swift in global action is the basis for the Rights of Nature.
  • On April 11th, a Special Tribunal Audience was held for Yasuni, presided by Boaventura de Sousa Santos.
  • On August 15th, a Special Tribunal Audience was held for Yasuni, presided by George Caffentzis.
  • On October 15th, a Special Tribunal Audience was held for the Great Barrier Reef, presided by Brendan Mackey.
  • The UN General Assembly, at its 70th session, adopted the seventh resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/70/208).
  • The Sixth Report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/70/268).
  • The Third International Rights of Nature Tribunal was held in Paris during COP21 presided by Cormac Cullinan (Wild Law – South Africa).

Judges: Tom Goldtooth (U.S.), Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Osprey Orielle Lake (U.S.), Nnimmo Bassey (Nigeria), Ruth Nyambura (Kenya), Damien Short (UK), Felicio Pontes (Brazil), Terisa Turner (Canada), Atossa Soltani (U.S.), Christophe Bonneuil (France), Phillippe Desbroses (France) y Dominique Bourg (Suiza).

Cases: Climate Change; Financialization of Nature / REDD; GMOs, Defenders of Nature; Mega Hydroelectric Plants (Brazil); oil exploitation in Ecuador (Yasuní and Chevron) and presentation of new cases (Corralejas Colombia; 570 hydropower dams in Eastern Europe; Gold mining in Galicia, Greece & cyanide spill in Romania; Lack of international coherence in the ocean “management”; Shell in Nigeria + Tar Sands in Canada).

  • Sao Paulo’s state in Brazil presents an amendment project to the 04-00005/2015 organic law in the protection of Mother Earth and following Indigenous culture. More information
  • In February, the Green Party of England and Wales adopted a Rights of Nature policy platform. The Greens in Scotland have taken similar steps.
  • In April, France’s Loyalty Islands, inhabited by 90% of the Kanak people, adopted the first phase of its Environmental Code, through which certain elements of Nature may be recognized in their rights. More information.
  • In September, the General Council of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin approved an amendment to their tribal constitution to recognize the Rights of Nature. The full Ho-Chunk membership will vote on the amendment in 2017.
  • Colombia’s Constitutional Court ruled that the Atrato River possesses rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration”, and established joint guardianship for the river shared by indigenous people and the national government.
  • A Special Tribunal Audience was held on April 30th on the San Francisco Bay-Delta Ecosystem with Pennie Opal Plant, Liz Husked, Gary Mulcahy, and Tim Stroshane.
  • The UN General Assembly, at its 71st session, adopted the eighth Resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/71/232).
  • The first Experts’ Summary Report on Harmony with Nature addressing Earth Jurisprudence was published (A/71/266).
  • Costa Rica passes an executive decree declaring 22 April the National Day of Mother Earth. More information.
  • In Nepal, the Supreme Court unequivocally closed Godavari Marble’s operation’s marble quarry and handed down a decision that enshrined the concept of Rights of Nature, bringing ecological governance to the forefront of Nepal’s environmental conversation. More information.
  • The New Zealand Parliament finalized the Te Awa Tupua Act, granting the Whanganui River legal status as an ecosystem.
  • The High Court of Uttarakhand, in India, issued rulings recognizing the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers, glaciers, and other ecosystems as legal persons with certain rights. More information.
  • The State Assembly of Madhya Pradesh in India declared the Narmada River a living entity and the lifeline of the state, announcing an indefinite ban on sand mining in the Narmada River. More information. 
  • The Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia established that animals are subjects with rights and granted rights to the Andean bear. More information. 
  • Mexico City passed a new Constitution including provisions requiring Rights of Nature law such as the recognition and regulation for “broader protection of Rights of Nature formed by all its ecosystems and species as a collective entity subject of rights”.
  • Lafayette, Colorado, in the U.S., enacted the first Climate Bill of Rights, recognizing the rights of humans and nature to a healthy climate, and banning fossil fuel extraction as a violation of those rights.
  • Amendment to the Organic Law of the municipality of Bonito in the State of Pernambuco in Brazil adopts Rights of Nature. More information (link one), More information (link two). 
  • On April 21st, the Seventh Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to commemorate International Mother Earth Day addressing Earth jurisprudence and the Sustainable Development agenda was established.
  • Colorado River vs. the State of Colorado was filed in the U.S. federal court. In this first in the nation lawsuit, an ecosystem is seeking recognition of its legal rights.
  • In October, the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, U.S. took the historic step to add a statute to enact the Rights of Nature.
  • On October 27th, the U.S. Rights of Nature Symposium was held in Tulane University, New Orleans, and was sponsored by CELDF, The Myrin Institute.
  • On the 7th and 8th of November, the Fourth International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Bonn-Germany was held during COP23, presided by Tom Goldtooth (Turtle Nation -EUA)

Judges: Alberto Acosta (Ecuador), Osprey Orielle Lake (EUA), Simona Fraudatario (Italia), Fernando ”Pino” Solanas (Argentina), Shannon Biggs (U.S.), Cormac Cullinan (South Africa), Ute Koczy (Germany), Ruth Nyambura (Kenya)

Cases: Climate Change (false energy solutions); financialization of nature; water deprivation in Almería – Spain; Defenders of Mother Earth; Lignite Mining in Germany; threats to the Amazon (Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia-Tipnis and French Guyana); implications of free-trade agreements to Nature.

  • In Australia, the Victorian Parliament passed on 21 September, the Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act 2017. The Act became law on 1 December 2017 and legally recognizes the Yarra as an indivisible living entity deserving protection. More information.
  • In December, Mount Taranaki in New Zealand obtained the same legal rights as a person. More information.
  • In Belize, the adoption of an indefinite moratorium signed into law on 29 December 2017 has the objective to preserve the World Heritage site reef builds on earlier recognition of Nature as a subject of rights. More information. 
  • On April 5th, the Colombian Supreme Court recognized the Colombian Amazon as a “subject of rights.” More information. 
  • The First Criminal Court of the Circuit of Cartagena, Colombia ordered the State of Colombia to protect and preserve the life of bees as pollinating agents. More information.
  • In June and July, France initiates a constitutional reform to further amend the Constitution (1958) and the Charter of the Environment (2004). Over 20 amendments addressing, among others, the rights of the living, animal welfare, the global commons, the crime of ecocide, and the principle of non-environmental regression. More information.
  • On June 22, the Rights of Nature were proposed during the first national debate about the Constitution in France, referring to Ecuador as an example. The proposal was made by Danièle Obono, a French politician and member of the National Assembly. More information. 
  • In July, the Uttarakhand High Court in India accorded the status of a legal person or entity to animals in the northern state. More information.
  • On July 9th, the Town Council of Civita Castellana in Italy became the first in Europe to declare their municipality a Nature’s Rights Zone. Check the announcement. 
  • In September, the Municipality of Paudalho, in the State of Pernambuco in Brazil, enacted a Rights of Nature law. More information. 
  • On September 20th and 21, the first academic seminar on the Rights of Nature in Corsica is held in France. More information.
  • On the 27 and 28th of September, the International Rights of Nature Symposium was held in Ecuador for the 10th Anniversary of the inclusion of RON in Ecuador’s Constitution.
  • On August 9th, 2018, in Colombia, the Administrative Court of Boyacá recognized the Páramo in Pisba, a high Andean ecosystem facing significant mining, as a “subject of rights.” More information. 
  • In December 2018, the White Earth band of the Chippewa Nation adopted the “Rights of the Manoomin” law securing legal rights of manoomin, or wild rice, a traditional staple crop of the Anishinaabe people: “Manoomin, or wild rice, within all the Chippewa ceded territories, possesses inherent rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve, as well as inherent rights to restoration, recovery, and preservation.” This is the first law to secure the legal rights of a particular plant species.  The rights of Manoomin were also adopted by the 1855 Treaty Authority.
  • On December 19th, The UN General Assembly, at its 74th session, adopted the eleventh resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/73/235). This resolution requests the President of the General Assembly. 
  • In Argentina, the municipal council of the city of Santa Fé approved a local ordinance recognizing in its Art.4 the Rights of Nature. More information. 
  • The San Severino Ramos Natural Water Spring in Brazil was granted Rights of Nature as a result of the Amendment to the Organic Law of the Municipality of Paudalho which recognized RoN. More information.
  • In January, a Commission from the International Rights of Nature Tribunal visited TIPNIS.
  • On January 23rd, Bangladesh’s High Court gave orders to give some legal rights to all the rivers.
  • On February 26th, Toledo residents in Ohio adopted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights to give the lake the legal right “to exist, prosper and evolve naturally“. It is the first law in the U.S. to secure the legal rights of a specific ecosystem. 
  • On March 14th, residents of Exeter, New Hampshire enacted a law dubbed the Right to Healthy Climate Ordinance, recognizing the “right to a healthy climate system capable of sustaining human societies.”
  • On March 16th,  residents of Nottingham, New Hampshire, in the U.S., enacted a law securing the Rights of Nature, including the right to be free from “chemical trespass.”
  • During April, Nature’s fundamental rights to be, evolve, and regenerate were formally recognized in Uganda’s new National Environmental Act.
  • On May 10-11 Earth Rights Conference in Sigtuna, Sweden was held.
  • On June 16th, an amendment to the state constitution recognizing the Rights of Nature was voted by the Congress of the State of Colima, in Mexico: “no interest, whether economic or political, should be above the interests and Rights of Nature.”
  • On June 21st, Uganda enacted the National Environmental Act of 2019 in which nature is recognized as having “the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.”
  • In June, The Regional Court of the Province of Tolima, Colombia recognized rights of the Coello, Combeima, and Cocora Rivers, including their basins and tributaries, as “individual entities, subject to rights of protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration by the State and the communities.” 
  • In July, the Juzgado Tercero de Ejecución de Penas y Medidas de Seguridad in Cali, Colombia, recognized Río Pance as a subject of rights. More information.
  • On July 11, the city council of Nordeast-Frylan in the Netherlands passed a motion that proposes granting special rights to the Wadden Sea. More information. 
  • On July 26, the ninth report of the Secretary-General on Harmony with Nature was published (A/74/236). More information.
  • The Superior Court of Medellín, Colombia recognized the Cauca River, including its basin and tributaries, as a subject of legal rights. 
  • In Colombia, the Plata River was recognized as a “subject of rights.” More information. 
  • The First Criminal Court in Neiva-Huila, Colombia, recognized the Magdalena River, including the river’s basin and tributaries, as possessing rights to “protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration.”
  • The Municipality of Florianópolis, Brazil, passed a law recognizing Rights of Nature. More information.
  • In August, a group of politicians, lawyers, and environmental activists in France published an article to request for the Seine River to have legal personhood. After that article came out, the city of Paris requested a study to evaluate legal personhood for the river. Article. Study.
  • In September, the Juzgado Cuarto de Ejecución de Penas y Medidas de Seguridad de Pereira, Regional Court in Colombia recognized Río Otún as a subject of rights. More information.
  • On 23 September the Municipal Council of the Provincial Municipality of Melgar in Perú adopted a Municipal Ordinance recognizing the Llallimayo River basin as a subject of rights. More information.
  • In November, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala rendered a non-anthropocentric verdict recognizing the spiritual and cultural relationship between Indigenous People and water, acknowledging it as a living entity.  More information.
  • On 24 November, Diane Evers, a Member of the Western Australia Parliament, introduced the Rights of Nature and Future Generations Bill 2019. This is the first time that legislation aiming to recognize the Rights of Nature has been introduced in an Australian Parliament. More information. 
  • On December 5th, the 5th Nature Rights Tribunal took place in Santiago de Chile. The Tribunal ruled on five cases: the privatization of water in Chile, lithium mines in the Atacama Desert, the destruction of the water cycle by human activities, forest fires in the Amazon and Chiquitania, and a broader perspective the destruction of the Amazon.
  • On December 12th, Paul-André Colombani, French politician, member of the French Parliament, and the Corsica Assembly, along with deputy Nadia Ramassamy, proposed an amendment at the French Assembly to recognize intrinsic rights to ecosystems. More information.
  • On December 19th, The UN General Assembly, at its 74th session, adopted the eleventh resolution on Harmony with Nature (A/RES/74/224). This resolution requests the President of the General Assembly. 
  • On 26 December, the District Municipality of Orurillo, in the Province of Melgar in the region of Puno, Perú, adopted a Municipal Ordinance recognizing Water as a subject of rights. More information.
  • The High Court of Bangladesh recognized the river Turag as a living entity with legal rights and held that the same would apply to all rivers in Bangladesh. More information.
  • The department of Nariño in Colombia became the first in the country to recognize Nature as a subject of rights by signing Decree 348. More information. 
  • The Colombian Municipal Civil Court of La Plata – Huila recognized the La Plata River as a subject of rights ordering protective measures for the well-being of both, the people and the La Plata River. More information.
  • The Administrative Court of Quindío in Colombia recognized the Quindío River as a subject of rights to protection, conservation, maintenance, and restoration. More information.
  • The Jurisdicción Especial para la Paz de Colombia (JEP), recognized Katsa Su, the vast territory of the Awá people, as a subject of rights and victim of the armed conflict. More information.
  • Shareholders in Ecuador request a constitutional precautionary measure to protect the Rights of Nature, seriously threatened by the inevitable collapse of dams in a mining project that violates these rights. More information.
  • A judge in Quevedo, Ecuador accepted a protection order in favor of the peasants of the province of Los Ríos, pointing out that GM crops violate the rights to life, health, work, a healthy environment, and the Rights of Nature. More information.
  • The Ecuadorian Court recognizes violations of the Rights of Nature and in the environment in the community of Sinangoe. More information.
  • In India, the Punjab and Haryana High Court accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in Haryana, granting them the “corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person”. More information.
  • A national regulation to protect the Rights of Nature was proposed in Argentina. More information.
  • The Menominee Indian Tribe asserted that the Menominee River in the U.S. has inherent rights to exist and flourish. More information.
  • In Argentina, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ first non-anthropocentric sentence, rendered on 6 February 2020, recognizes the protection of the rights of Indigenous People in the case “Indigenous Community Members of the Lhaka Honhat (Our Land) Association Vs. Argentina. This is the first time the Inter-American Court sets a precedent on the rights to water, food, a healthy environment, and cultural identity. More information.
  • Voters in Orange County, Florida, U.S., pass an ordinance establishing the legal rights of the Wekiva and Econlockhatchee Rivers. More information.
  • On April 29th, 2020, in Costa Rica, the municipality of Curridabat, afforded citizenship to pollinators, trees, and native plants. More information. 
  • The Punjab and Haryana High Court in India declared Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake as A “legal entity/legal person/juristic person/ juridical person/moral person/artificial person for its survival, preservation, and conservation having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.” More information.
  • The Tŝilhqot’in Nation in Canada enacts a “ʔEsdilagh Sturgeon River Law” recognizing that “[p]eople, animals, fish, plants, the nen [land], and the tu [water] have rights in the decisions about their care and use that must be considered and respected.” More information.
  •  On 21 May, the Islamabad High Court of Pakistan issued a decision that affirms the rights of nonhuman animals and specifically orders the release to the sanctuary of an Asian elephant named Kaavan held in solitary confinement at the Marghazar Zoo. More information.
  • In June, the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court agreed to hear a case based on the Rights of Nature enshrined in Ecuador’s Constitution. It heard arguments in a case to protect the Los Cedros Protected Forest from mining.
  • The Nez Perce Tribe General Council passed a resolution recognizing rights of the Snake River in the U.S., including the right to exist, flourish, evolve, flow, regenerate, and be restored. It envisions a legal guardianship body to enforce those rights. More information.
  • The Democratic Party’s Climate Council of the U.S. makes the recommendation to “Establish a commission…to explore incorporating Rights of Nature principles into U.S. law.More information. 
  • On July 23rd, the Mar Menor lagoon was recognized as a subject of rights by the Spanish municipality of Los Alcazares. More information.
  • The Blue Mountain Council of New South Wales, Australia, resolved to integrate the Rights of Nature in its municipal planning and operations. More information.
  • New legislation in Australia titled “the Great Ocean Road and Environs Protection Act” passed on 16 June recognizes the Great Ocean Road as ‘one living and integrated natural entity.’  More information. 
  • In August, in Colombia, following the verdict in appeal of the Superior Court of Ibagué for the tutelary request Juan Felipe Rodríguez Vargas, Los Nevados National Natural Park was declared a special subject of rights for its protection, recovery, and conservation with an integral approach. More information.
  • Also in Colombia, the Supreme Court recognized a national park, la Via Parque Isla Salamanca, as a subject of rights. In 2000, UNESCO declared the park a Biosphere Reserve, and previously, in 1998, it was declared a Ramsar Site. More information. 
  • Colombia also advanced in a legal case, brought by citizens before the Administrative Court of Caquetá, seeking to have the Caquetá, Caguán, and Pescado Rivers recognized as subjects of legal rights. More information. 
  • On August 17th, 18th, and 20th, the Special Tribunal of Nature Rights for Chiquitania was held. The mismanagement of the fires in Chiquitania by the Plurinational State of Bolivia was qualified as ecocide by the judges of the Tribunal. More information.
  • On 15 September, the Superior Tribunal of Ibagué in Colombia declared the Natural National Park of Complejo de Páramos Las Hermosas subject of rights to life and a healthy environment. More information.
  • On Thursday, September 17th, the Chilean justice system ordered the Canadian group Barrick Gold, the world’s second-largest gold producer, to abandon construction work on Pascua Lama, a gigantic open-pit mine located on the border between Argentina and Chile. The environmental court in Antofagasta (northern Chile) upheld a 2018 decision by the government’s environmental agency, finding that the company had repeatedly violated environmental standards. Barrick Gold will also have to pay a fine of 7 billion Chilean pesos (7.8 million euros).
  • On 18 September, L’Appel du Rhone was launched, demanding for the recognition of a legal personality for the Rhône River in France in order to “defend its rights to exist, to be preserved, to regenerate, to evolve, so as to maintain and guarantee its environment and its biodiversity both for us and for future generations”. More information. Watch video.
  • On 23 September, Senator Juan Diego Vasquez presented to Panama’s National Assembly a draft bill recognizing the Rights of Nature, which has been officially accepted and will be voted upon in 2021. More information.
  • On September 24th, a judge at the Cotacachi Court ruled that the Ministry of the Environment failed at its job of protecting species on the Llurimagua mining concession in northwestern Ecuador’s biodiverse cloud forests. The case has implications for mining companies operating throughout Ecuador.
  • On 24 September, the Constitutional Court ordered the protection of the Rights of Nature to the Alpayacu River in Ecuador to control contamination by poultry, pig, and agricultural companies. More information.
  • On 10 October, Marie Toussaint, French jurist and parliamentarian, proposed an amendment to the Report on Deforestation: “Old-growth and primary forests should be considered as global commons and protected as such, and that their ecosystems should be granted legal statusMore information.
  • Toussaint also launched a series of conferences on October 13th on giving Rights of Nature a voice within the European Union. Recordings of the conferences can be watched here. 
  • On 13 October, Argentinian representative Valeria López Delzar introduced an ordinance on the Rights of Nature to the deliberative council of the municipality of Santa Fe. More information.
  • On 23 November, Argentinian Representative Carlos Del Frade introduced a Bill on the Rights of Nature to the Santa Fe Chamber of Deputies. More information.
  • On 26 November, the Municipality of the city of Rosario in Argentina, one of the largest cities in the country, adopted a decision declaring its support to recognize the Paraná River and Wetlands as a subject of law. More information.
  • On 27 November, the First Civil Court of Sogamoso declared Lake Tota, the largest lake in Colombia, a subject of rights, and ordered the protection of the fundamental rights to life, health, water, and a healthy environment of the inhabitants of the surrounding municipalities. More information.  
  • Universal Declaration of the Rights of Rivers launched online with signatures from across the globe. Visit the website.
  • Advocates introduce legislation to establish the legal rights of the River Ethiope in Nigeria. More information.
  • Several non-governmental organizations in El Salvador present a proposal to the Legislative Assembly to amend the Constitution to include the recognition of the Rights of Nature through an article: “Nature is also recognized as a subject of rights, since it generates, reproduces and realizes life. It further recognizes the rights to full respect of her existence, the maintenance and regeneration of her life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes.” More information.
  • A study by the European Economic and Social Committee was published with the aim to define a framework for the legal recognition of the Rights of Nature in the EU legal system, as a prerequisite for a different and improved relationship between humans and nature. More information.

 

  • In Perú, a bill for the law is presented to recognize Rights of Nature, endorsed by congressman Lenin Bazán and presented by Indigenous groups such as ONAMIAP, with collaborations from constitutionalists Juan Carlos Ruiz and Mario Melo. It proposes that the “Law recognizes the Rights of Nature, ecosystems, and species” as a subject of rights deserving protection of the State and explicitly declares that Nature is a living being, having intrinsic and universal value, with the right to exist, naturally flourish and entitled to regeneration, restoration, and evolution.” More information.
  • The “Can Nature get it right? A Study on Rights of Nature in the European Context” study is published – commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the JURI Committee, it explores the concept of Rights of Nature and its different aspects in legal philosophy and international agreements, as well as in legislation and case-law on different levels. 
  • On 19 March, national councilors from Switzerland representing five different political parties presented an Initiative for the Rights of Nature to the Swiss Parliament requesting the recognition of a right to a healthy environment and Rights of Nature. The initiative further requests that the Federal Constitution be amended to recognize Nature as a legal entity. More information.
  • On 25 March, David Choquehuanca, Acting President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, launched the initiative “Reencuentro con la Pachamama” (Re-establishing our Connection with Mother Earth/Pachamama) calling the national and international communities to protect her. More information. 
  • Deputies in Oaxaca, México, introduced a state constitutional amendment that would recognize the Rights of Nature and establish a legal guardianship body to enforce those rights. More information.
  • Rights of the Magpie River/Muteshekau Shipu recognized by the Innu Council of Ekuanitshit and the Minganie Regional County Municipality (RCM) in Canada. More information.
  • Uganda goes one step further in protecting the Rights of Nature: Indigenous Bagungu communities pioneered legislation to protect sacred natural sites and recognize the customary laws of the Bagungu People, safeguarding Nature’s rights to exist, thrive, and evolve. More information. 
  • Five Members of Parliament in Switzerland submitted an initiative to the federal government requesting that the government draft a constitutional amendment to enshrine the human right to a healthy environment and the Rights of Nature in the Swiss Constitution. More information.
  • The City Council of Berkeley, California, in the U.S., approved a recommendation to “recognize that the natural living world has a right to exist, thrive, regenerate and evolve its life cycles,” with the proposed resolution now moving to the full City Council for consideration. 
  • The Blue Mountains City Council has become the first Local Council and first government entity in Australia to adopt the Rights of Nature as a foundational principle for its policies and planning. More information. 
  • In April 2021, the first U.S. Rights of Nature case was filed. The lawsuit was brought by waterways to enforce their legal rights against a developer’s proposal to destroy wetlands and streams. More information. 
  • A network of streams, lakes, and marshes in Orange County, Florida, in the U.S., sues a developer and the state to try to stop a housing development from destroying them.  It’s a novel lawsuit under the Rights of Nature law passed in November 2020. More information.
  • A new Action for Protection legal case was won in Ecuador against mining – evoking Rights of Nature articles 71 and 72 in the Constitution. The judge ruled mining activities caused environmental damage in El Oro province. More information.
  • On 14 May, the Town of Crestone, Colorado, in the U.S., became the world’s first International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) community to acknowledge the Rights of Nature. More information.
  • On 20 May, lawyers and researchers from the research group “Direito Ambiental e Ecologia Política na Sociedade de Risco (GPDA)” filed a lawsuit in Florianópolis, Brazil, seeking the recognition of Lagoa da Conceição as a subject of rights. Watch the video. 
  • Also on 20 May, the European Parliament passes a resolution on the liability of companies for environmental damage. More information (link one), (link two).
  • That same day, the First Criminal Circuit Court with Knowledge Functions Neiva, declared the Fortalecillas River in Colombia “a subject with rights to protection, conservation, maintenance and restoration by the State and the community”. More information.
  • 32 independent constituents in Chile issued a letter for the protection of the environment and for an ecological Constitution that enshrines the Rights of Nature. More information.
  • An international panel has decided on a legal definition for ecocide as a crime against humanity as a whole, but above all, against the planet. More information. 
  • Northern Ireland councils for Derry City and Strabane and the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council recognize the Rights of Nature, in a first for these islands. More information.
  • On July 5th, a coalition of organizations filed an Amicus Curiae brief with a Peruvian court requesting the recognition of the rights of the Marañón River, the hydrological source of the Amazon. More information.  
  • On the first week of July, Nederland became the first community in Colorado, U.S., to approve a resolution to recognize the Rights of Nature for Boulder Creek. More information. 
  • The Mexican Congress voted to include the Rights of Nature in their Magna Carta. The commissions of Governance and Constitutional Points and Agricultural and Forestry Development of the local Congress unanimously approved the initiative to elevate the Rights of Nature to constitutional rank and return the principle of land distribution to the original meaning and text of the 1917 Constitution. More information.
  • Corsican citizens recognize the rights of the Tavignanu River, a first in France. More information.
  • August 5th: The White Earth Nation of Ojibwe in the U.S. sues the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in tribal court on behalf of wild rice, making it the first RoN lawsuit filed by wild rice in tribal court. More information. 
  • August 18th: A Commission on Environment and Rights of Nature was established in the Chilean Constitutional Convention, which will make it possible to introduce the Rights of Nature in Chile‘s constitutional debate prior to the drafting of their new Constitution. 
  • The Ecuadorian Constitutional Court selected 6 cases to further develop the Rights of Nature in Ecuador: Río Dulcepamba case; Cuenca Río Nangaritza; Bosque Protector Los Cedros; Caso Piatúa; Primate Estrellita; Caso Private Property vs. Petroecuador.
  • Asociación Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas and GARN Latinoamérica presented a Bill to recognize the Rights of Nature in the Province of Mendoza, Argentina. This project is of utmost importance, as Mendoza is one of the Argentinian provinces most affected by climate change and drought, where mining and fracking projects are seriously impacting ecosystem health and the quality of life of its inhabitants.
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2021 Congress was held in Marseille, France from September 3 to 11. As the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, the IUCN is a global authority on the status of Nature and the measures needed to safeguard the planet. Civil society groups pushed Rights of Nature at the Congress to ensure it remains at the top of the agenda. Download GARN’s press release.
  • September 7th: MP Alexandre Boulerice, from the House of Commons of Canada, in partnership with the International Observatory of Nature Rights, announced that the New Democratic Party (NPD), is fully committed to recognizing the inherent rights of the fauna and flora of the Saint-Laurent River. More information.
  • The Huaynakana Kamatahuara Kana, a Peruvian Kukama women’s organization, filed an injunction requesting that the government recognize the rights of the Marañón River as a living being and guarantee its protection. More information.
  • September 8th: Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled in favor of Rights of Nature on an article that could allow logging and extractive use of mangroves, which was declared unconstitutional. More information.
  • The Green Party of England and Wales has introduced a “Rights of Nature Act” to give nature legal rights. The Green Party has called for ecosystems to be provided legal protection. The ‘Rights of Nature Act’ would extend legal rights to wildlife and habitats and would establish an independent commission to oversee enforcement.  More information.
  • The 5th International Rights of Nature Tribunal was held in Glasgow, Scotland, parallel to COP26 on November 4th and 5th. The Tribunal heard the Amazon as a threatened living entity case and the False solutions to the climate crisis case. Download the Tribunal judges’ decision here.
  • In the U.S., the Ridgway town council in Colorado approved a resolution to recognize the rights of the Uncompahgre River. More information here.
  • On December 1st, the Constitutional Court of Ecuador used the constitutional provision on the “Rights of Nature” to safeguard Los Cedros protected forest from mining concessions. More information here.
  • On December 13th, Donegal County Council became the first council area in the Republic of Ireland to recognize the Rights of Nature. Read more here.
  • On January 4, Laurentino Cortizo, President of Panama, signed Rights of Nature into national law. The law requires the state and all persons, whether natural or legal (such as corporations), to respect and protect Nature’s rights.
  • In the U.S., on January 6th, the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe sued the city of Seattle on behalf of the salmon species, following the city’s construction and operation of off-reservation hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River. The fish population in the river collapsed, impeding the salmon’s migration to spawning grounds. More information. Read the complaint here.
  • In Chile, on January 18th, the popular initiative “For water, Rights of Nature and glaciers” reached more than 15,000 signatures, and thus was presented for discussion at the Constitutional Convention. More information.