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Envisioning a world that considers nature’s rights: An introductory discussion in Europe

Fri, 31 Mar 2017

Enhancing the value of nature can play an important role in addressing some of the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges. Acknowledging nature’s rights may be a useful tool to help  leverage nature and aid in reaching Europe’s biodiversity targets. On 29 March 2017, Nature’s Rights – a non-profit organisation seeking to establish legal personality and rights for ecosystems and species – held an event at the European Parliament in Brussels, to launch their initiative in Europe and explore the possibilities granting nature’s rights could bring to the discussion.

EU meeting on Nature's rights

Photo: IUCN/Bianca Vergnaud

Co-hosted by MEPs Pavel Poc, Vice-Chair of ENVI Committee; Benedek Jávor, Vice-Chair of ENVI Committee; and Marco Affronte, ENVI Committee Member, the event: “Nature’s Rights Conference : The Missing Piece of the Puzzle” brought together a high-level panel to discuss how granting legal rights to nature might help to create the paradigm shift needed to live more sustainably and harmoniously within our planet’s limits.

Luc Bas, Director, IUCN European Regional Office provided one of the keynote speeches sharing IUCN’s views on rights for nature. IUCN and its Members clearly recognise the importance of nature’s rights as the resolution “Incorporation of the Rights of Nature as the organisational focal point in IUCN decision making”  was  adopted at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012 in Jeju. The Resolution invites IUCN and its Members to promote the development of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature as a first step towards reconciliation between human beings and the Earth as the basis of our lives, as well as the foundations of a new civilising pact. Since then, the Rights for Nature has also been referenced in the IUCN Global Programme 2017-2020, adopted in at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawai’i.

“Being a science-based and evidence-based organisation, IUCN will continue to explore and evaluate the benefits of such an initiative,” said Luc Bas.

IUCN was joined by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director, European Environment Agency who talked about the need for systemic solutions to address the challenges of the 21st Century. Panellists included Proffesor Massimiliano Montini, Sienna University and Cambridge University C-EENRG Fellow; MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP); Jen Morgan, Systems Change Consultant; and Mumta Ito, Lawyer and Founder of Nature’s Rights.

Learn more about Nature’s Rights and their draft directive here.