Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Change the World

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David Boyd author of “Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Change the World” is interviewed on the independent media program Living On Earth. This inspiring perspective shared by David reminds us of the importance of viewing nature as relatives not property and the need for legal recognition of the rights of nature. He shares some history of human rights and how earth rights is a different classification where, for example, a river may have sovereignty over itself. He gives examples of grassroots movements of people taking action to institute rights of nature ordinances in their communities.  For the  the interview podcast plus a full written transcript visit the Living on Earth website. 

Excerpt from the Living on Earth interview with David Boyd:

Environmental lawyers are claiming in court that land, rivers, and other natural features should own themselves rather than being considered property, much like the law already treats corporations as ‘persons.’ The case for treating elements of nature as legal ‘persons’ is outlined in the book, Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Change the World by environmental lawyer David Boyd. In a conversation with Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood he explained how this approach can go a long way to protecting critical ecosystems from human exploitation and destruction.


CURWOOD: Less than 150 years ago in America, black people finally won the right to be full citizens and vote, and voting rights for women followed 50 years later. And less than two decades ago, people in America won the right to marry whomever they choose, regardless of gender. Over time the rights of people to fairness and equality have expanded, and now there is a move to extend intrinsic rights to exist to nature.

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Environmental lawyer David Boyd has written a book called "The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World". He says, trees, rivers, and ecosystems have basic rights that we, as a part of nature ourselves, are morally bound to honor. David Boyd teaches law at the University of British Columbia and he joins us now from his home in the San Juan Islands.

Welcome to Living on Earth, David.

BOYD: It's a real pleasure to be with you, Steve.

CURWOOD: So, a legal revolution that could save the world. Explain the concept of personhood rights for nature and why you believe it's not such a wacky idea.

BOYD: OK. Well, you know, people think of a wacky idea as being human rights for nature, and that's not what we're talking about here. We're not talking about chimpanzees or endangered species or ecosystems having human rights, like the right to vote. What we're talking about is legal recognition of the rights of animal species and nature. And in our western legal systems we've recognized the legal rights of non-human persons for many, many years. So, examples include municipalities and corporations that we designate as legal persons, and then through the law we articulate what are the rights of a corporation, for example. So now what's emerging around the world in terms of the rights of nature are, what are the rights of a river? What are the rights of a chimpanzee? What are the rights of an ecosystem? So, we have to be quite clear in distinguishing human rights, which we're not talking about, from the rights of legal persons which we are talking about. To continue reading please visit the  Living on Earth website.