Earth Jurisprudence - Earth Law

Earth Law Precedents

Gaia is committed to initiating, supporting, identifying and connecting precedents which recognise Earth Jurisprudence/Earth Law principles and practices. A long-term strategy is to open spaces in the dominant western jurisprudence for the recognition of principles and practices which come from the primary source of law - the Earth - rather than from purely human interests.

Below are some of the Earth Law precedents - legal instruments, declarations, court cases and emerging initiatives - which recognise Earth's Laws, the Rights of Nature and future generations, Earth-centred customary governance systems of indigenous and local peoples, and responsibilities to live in harmony with Earth. While some of these precedents may not explicitly recognise Earth Law principles, they have potential in their interpretation and implementation. Together these precedents are contributing to a shift in human consciousness and behaviour, and necessary transition towards Earth-centred governance systems and a way of life which recognise humans as part of a wider Earth Community, and that we need to comply with Earth's laws, processes and boundaries to maintain the health of the whole.


GLOBAL

The important thing is for humans to come up with a binding agreement to live and act responsibly towards their Planetary neighbours.Thiong'o Ng'ang'a, PORINI, Kenya

Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

In April 2010, on Mother Earth Day, participants of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and Rights of Mother Earth drafted and adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. The Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth recognizes Mother Earth as a Living Being with rights to life, existence and to continue her vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions. In 2012 the United Nations' Rio +20 Earth Summit recognised the need to live in harmony with Nature and paragraph 39 of the General Assembly's Resolution ''The Future We Want'' acknowledged that some countries recognise the Rights of Nature. There is a global campaign for the endorsement and implementation of the Declaration by the United Nations and governments globally.

Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature

In 2014 the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature established the world's first Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature, in Ecuador and Peru, to hear cases violating the Rights of Nature and recommend restorative and preventative measures. Regional Tribunals have established in the U.S. and Australia. Although not (yet) legally binding, the Tribunal is contributing to the recognition, development and application of Earth Jurisprudence principles.

World Charter for Nature

In 1982, over 100 member States of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a World Charter for Nature, which formulates general principles and obligations to guide human conduct, laws and practices to protect Nature. Recognising the intrinsic value of Nature and that humans are part of Nature, the Charter calls for humans to be guided by a moral code of conduct that does not compromise the 'integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist'. The Charter also regulates human activities according to the Earth's limits and processes, and common heritage and precautionary principles.

Humanity is part of Nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients. Every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to humans, and to accord other organisms such recognition, humans must be guided by a moral code of action.World Charter of Nature

Earth Charter

In 2000, a group of Non-Governmental Organisations and allies adopted an Earth Charter which "seeks to inspire in all peoples a sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the human family, the greater community of life, and future generations." Four pillars of sustainability are: 1) Respect and care for the Community of Life; 2) Ecological integrity, 3) Social and economic Justice and; 4) Democracy, Nonviolence and Peace, and sixteen main principles. The Charter also recognises the role of traditional knowledge, cultural and spiritual rights of indigenous peoples, non-discrimination and self-determination. Although not legally binding, its principles are considered of universal relevance.

Proposed United Nations Crime of Ecocide

In 2009 Polly Higgins, UK barrister and activist, began a campaign calling on the United Nations to Earth Lawyer Polly Higginsadopt a law recognising mass destruction of ecosystems as a 5th international crime against peace - a crime of 'Ecocide'. Ecocide would be defined as: "The extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished."

Founded upon a duty of care to the planet, this crime against peace would be of strict liability and erga omnes (binding on all - even those States who are not signed up to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Mining, fossil fuel extraction (e.g. Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada) and deforestation could be classified as Ecocide. The vision of the Eradicating Ecocide campaign is for a law of Ecocide to be fully implemented by 2020.

More than 10 countries have already recognised a form of Ecocide in their national laws, including Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Vietnam. In 2011, Polly and the Hamilton Group organised a mock trial in the UK Supreme Court to test the proposed crime of Ecocide. This was followed by a Restorative Justice process in 2012 between a fictitious company and the victims including Earth (voiced by the Gaia Foundation), indigenous peoples and future generations. In Europe, more than 112,000 people (as of January 2014) signed a petition by the European Citizen's Initiative for a European Ecocide Directive.

Proposed Charter of Brussels to establish a Criminal Court for Environment and Health

In 2014, a coalition, including End Ecocide in Europe, European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment, Globe EU and Green Cross International, launched a campaign at the European Parliament calling for establishment of a Criminal Court of the Environment and Health at both the European and International levels, with legal sanctions for environmental damage. Once a crime of Ecocide is recognised, such a court could enable its enforcement. The Brussels Charter is open for signature until September 2014.

Proposed Declaration on Planetary Boundaries

In 2011 Peter Roderick, a public interest lawyer in the UK, proposed a draft United Nations Declaration on Planetary Boundaries which would recognise and respect the necessary Earth-system processes which sustain all life, and promote responsibility for safeguarding these processes from serious or irreversible damage. The Declaration draws on research by Rockström et al, published in Nature magazine 2009, which argues that there are 9 critical Earth-system processes and associated thresholds which we need to live within in order to prevent irreversible damage to our planet Earth and all life. According to the research, three of these boundaries have already been breached: climate change; biodiversity and the nitrogen cycle. In 2013, the Planetary Boundaries Initiative, a legal think-tank, submitted evidence to the UN Open Working Group on SDGs calling for the international community to agree on the protection of the Earth System as a principal, overall priority for post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Note: In 2012 Kate Raworth proposed combining the understanding of planetary boundaries with that of social boundaries, as they are interdependent. Her report: A Safe and Just Space for Humanity, 'Can we live within the doughnut'? integrates Rockström et al's '9 Earth-system Processeses' with "11 dimensions of human deprivation", arguing that there is a social foundation above which we should live to ensure social justice. Today we are in breach of 8 of the 11 social boundaries, particularly access to food and gender equality. Kate argues that between the planetary ceiling and the social foundation lies an area - shaped like a doughnut- which is the safe and just space for humanity to thrive in, and that any vision of sustainable development must recognise that eradicating poverty and achieving social justice must be understood within the boundaries of our Earth's ecosystem.

IUCN Rights of Nature Resolution

In 2012, the IUCN World Conservation Congress passed Resolution 100 which recognises and incorporates the Rights of Nature as an organisational focal point of IUCN decision-making.

World Wilderness Congress Rights of Nature Resolution

In 2013, the World Wilderness Congress passed Resolution 6: Advancing Nature Rights Worldwide for the adoption and implementation of new laws recognising the rights of Nature, establishment of practices consistent with Nature's rights, and promotion of economic systems in harmony with the rights of Nature.

UNEP Conceptual Framework of Living in Harmony with Nature

In 2013, the second session of the UNEP Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES) adopted a conceptual framework which recognises the knowledge systems of living in Harmony with Nature and Mother Earth.

UN Forum on Forests Resolution of Living in Harmony with Nature

In 2013, the tenth session of the UN Forum on Forests adopted a Resolution 10/2 on Emerging Issues, Means of Implementation and the UN Forests Trust Fund which recognises the need to guide humanity to live in harmony with Nature.

Group of 77 Declaration Towards a New World Order to Live Well

In 2014, Heads of State and Governments at the Commemorative Summit on the 50th Anniversary of the Group of 77 in Bolivia adopted a Declaration Towards a New World Order to Live Well which recognises the rights of Nature and need for economic development to be in harmony with Nature.


SOUTH AMERICA

Ecuador

First Constitution in the world recognises the legally enforceable Rights of Nature

In 2008, the peoples and Constitutional Assembly passed, with an overwhelming majority vote, the Ecuadorian Constitution which states that 'Nature or Pacha Mama, from which life reproduces and enfolds itself, has the right to the integral respect for its existence and the maintenance and regeneration of its vital cycles, structures, functions and evolutionary processes. Nature also has a right to restoration, independent of damage to humans. Citizens have a right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, and reciprocal duty to respect the rights of Nature. Communities can require public authorities to comply with Nature's rights. Governance of ecosystems is guided by the principles of 'sumac kawsay' or good living, intergenerational responsibilities, and strict application of the precautionary principle. The rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, public participation and prior informed consent, governance of sacred lands/territories, through customs and traditional authorities are also recognised and protected.

Recognition of Rights of River Vilcabama

On 30 March 2011 the Provincial Court of Loja granted an injunction against the Provincial Government of Loja to stop violating the Constitutional rights of Vilcabama river to exist and maintain its vital cycles, structure, functions, and evolutionary processes. This is the first successful Rights of Nature case (Wheeler versus Director de la Procuraduria General Del Estado en Loja, Juicio) under Article 71 of the Ecuadorian Constitution. The Government's project to build a road, without required environmental impact studies, detrimentally affected the river's flow causing flooding, and disrupted wildlife and local communities' livelihoods. Two members of the public applied to the Court for an interdict. The Court upheld the precautionary principle, that until the Government can prove that the widening of the road would not affect Nature the presumption is for the protection of the rights of Nature. The Court also endorsed the intergenerational principle, recognising the importance of Nature for protecting the interests of present and future generations. The Court ordered the Government to present its environmental impact studies, develop a rehabilitation and remediation plan, and publicly apologise for beginning the construction of a road without the necessary environmental licence.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill and Defence of the Rights of Nature

On 26th November 2010 an international alliance of environmental activists filed a case against British Petroleum (BP) in the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court, defending the Rights of Nature which are recognised under the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution. The group included Nnimmo Bassey from Nigeria and Vandana Shiva from India (both winners of the Right Livelihood Award), and activists from Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador, including the Chair of the Constitutional Review panel for Ecuador. The Constitution recognises Nature's right to be restored and allows for a citizen or group to file a case in the Constitutional Court of Ecuador for a violation which occurs in a different country but which affects the Earth as a whole. Rather than seeking financial compensation, the coalition calls for BP to release all data and information on the ecological destruction caused by the oil spill, and that BP refrains from extracting as much oil underground as they spilled in the Gulf of Mexico disaster. Hear Nnimmo Bassey (Chair of Friends of the Earth International) discuss 'Justice for the Earth Community: Defending the Rights of Nature and Holding Corporations to Account' at Gaia Learning Centre, September 2011.

Bolivia

Recognition of the Rights of Mother Earth and Holistic Development to Live Well

In 2010 Bolivia endorsed a new law of which recognises the Rights of Mother Nature to life, diversity and balance - a world first. The Law of the Rights of Mother Earth endorses guiding principles including the common good, interculturalism and no commodification of Nature, and requires the State and citizens to respect Earth's rights. Under the Law, companies and individuals could be held accountable for environmental damage they cause and for its reparation. The Law also provides for an Ombudsman for Mother Earth to protect her interests. In 2012, Bolivia adopted a Framework Act for the Rights of Mother Earth and Holistic Development to Live Well.

Colombia

Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Pirá Paraná

In 2010, the indigenous peoples of Pirá Paraná in the Amazon successfully secured legal recognition of their traditional knowledge as part of the Nation's Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Association of Traditional Authorities of the Pirá Paraná (ACAIPI), with support of Gaia Amazonas, secured approval of the Colombian Ministry of Culture for a Special Safeguard Plan for their territory. For the indigenous people of the Pirá Paraná, 'Hee Yaia Keti Oka' is an organic system of traditional knowledge aimed at maintaining the delicate balance of relations between humans and Nature, and contains millennial wisdom for governing the territory, time and life. In November 2011, the UNESCO approved inclusion and recognition of the culture of Jaguar Shamans of Yuruparí on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Watch a short video submitted to UNESCO.

Belize

Court rules Mesoamerican Coral Reef is a Living Being

In 2010 the Chief Justice of the Court ruled that the Reef is not property but a Living Being which is part of Belize's national patrimony and cannot be sacrificed to commercial interests. On 13 January 2009, a cargo vessel collided into the Mesoamerican Reef, near Caye Glory in Belize, damaging 6,000 square meters of pristine reef. The Mesoamerican reef is over 225 million years old, the largest coral reef in the Atlantic Ocean and is home to more than 60 coral reef species and 500 species of fish. One expert report estimated that it will take approximately five hundred years for the Belize Barrier Reef to recover from the grounding of the vessel. The Court found the shipping company liable and required it to pay $11 million Belize dollars ($5.5 million US dollars) plus an interest of 3% per year for environmental and ecological loss and the cost of restoration services.

Guatemala

Proposed Law on Sacred Sites

Since 1997, Oxlajuj Ajpop, an organisation of indigenous Maya spiritual leaders, has been advocating for, and developing, a Law Proposal on Sacred Sites in consultation with indigenous communities. This proposed law aims to secure recognition of Sacred Sites and Territories and their governance, access, use, and conservation by communities. It has not yet been accepted by all members of the Guatemalan Congress and the government, but negotiations continue. Oxlajuj Ajpop are also calling for a new Constitution and legal reform which respects Mother Earth, ecosystems and indigenous territories, and a ''socially and legally pluralistic state''

Mexico

Law for the Protection of the Earth

In 2013, the Federal District of Mexico passed a decree reforming the framework environmental law to recognise Earth as a living being and the role of citizen participation in environmental protection. More information available in Spanish - legal text, background document and video.


AFRICA

Statement of Common African Customary Laws for the Protection of Sacred Natural Sites

In 2012, Custodians of Sacred Natural Sites in Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia and Uganda developed a Statement of Common African Customary Laws for the Protection of Sacred Natural Sites, in Nanyuki, Kenya. The Statement recognises that Sacred Natural Sites and Territories are places of ecological, spiritual and cultural importance, where the ecosystem's laws and limits can be read and should be respected. The Statement provides important guidance on how Sacred Natural Sites should be respected as No-Go areas for any activity, other than the required spiritual practices, and that the customary governance systems of custodian communities should be recognised.

Kenya

Kenyan Constitution 2010

In 2010, lobbying by communities and civil society resulted in recognition of community land, including ancestral land - for the first time in the Constitution - and recognition of the cultural practices, right to self-governance and customary laws of minority and indigenous communities. There is an opportunity to interpret and implement these Constitutional provisions in the drafting of the Community Land Bill, to recognise Earth Law principles which underpin customary governance systems of indigenous communities.

South Africa

Recognition of a Network of Sacred Natural Sites and Territories

In 2010 the Ramunangi clan and Dzomo la Mupo in Venda, South Africa succeeded in securing an interdict from the High Court to stop tourism development destroying a sacred waterfall, Phiphidi Sacred Site, violating their rights and responsibilities, and breaching planning regulations. The presiding Judge of the Limpopo High Court, Justice Mann, recognising the Constitutional cultural and spiritual rights of the communities, said during the hearing that the whole Site was sacred, in the same way a church building is regarded as a holy place, even though the rituals are done only at the altar. Following breach of this order by the developers, the South African High Court extended the temporary court interdict in 2011. Contempt of court proceedings and hearing of a permanent court interdict are under way.

To strengthen protection of the network of Sacred Natural Sites, three custodian clans of Dzomo la Mupo submitted an application, on their own terms, in 2012, for registration of their Zwifho (Sacred Natural Sites) and recognition as No-Go Areas for development. The Mupo Foundation, Gaia Foundation, Chennells Albertyn attorneys and various advisors provided strategic and legal assistance. The Clans also asserted for recognition of their Earth-centred customary governance systems, which recognise the Rights of Nature and future generations, and human responsibilities to protect the wider Earth Community. Negotiations with the South African government continue for recognition as a national heritage site.

Ethiopia

Registration for the Recognition of Sheka Sacred Forest

In 2012 the Sheka people, with support of MELCA, secured registration of their sacred forest as an UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, in which human activities such as development are prohibited in the core zone including in the sacred and cultural forests and wetlands; and which recognises communities' participation in the governance and protection of ecosystems. The Biosphere Reserve also serves as a demonstration site for environmental education and the link between culture and biodiversity, or cultural biodiversity. In 2013 communities in Sheka secured recognition of their customary laws and certificates of recognition of their Sacred Natural Sites, which means that no development can take place in these 'No-Go Areas'.

Benin

Legal Recognition of Sacred Natural Sites

In 2012 civil society successfully lobbied the Benin government to pass a national Law (Interministerial Order No.0121) for the sustainable 'management', legal recognition, and integration of sacred forests into the national system of protected areas. This law is a first in Africa to recognise sacred forests and sites where gods, spirits and ancestors reside, and that communities protect and govern sacred forests, and have a responsibility for implementing the 'management' plan for the forest. GRABE Benin played a significant role in advising and contributing to the development of the national law and its implementation at the municipal and local levels in Avrankou, Adjarra and Adjohoun. Please see below for an English translation of the law. This precedent is contributing to building a body of law which recognises Sacred Natural Sites and the Earth-centred customary governance systems of their custodian communities, and is inspiring and supporting communities in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana and Colombia in developing similar precedents elsewhere.

Uganda

Recognising the Rights of a Watershed

In 2014, a lawyer with Advocates for Natural Resources Governance and Development (ANARDE) proposed developing a precedent - a first in Africa - to recognise the Rights of a Sacred Lake and watershed not to be polluted from mining and development, and recognise the rights of custodian communities to govern and protect the watershed. The National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE) and Gaia Foundation are assisting in developing this precedent.

Ghana

Defence of Sacred Groves

In 2014 a national Coalition including organisation Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organisational Development (CIKOD) petitioned the Ghanaian Government to halt the issuance of a licence and environmental permit to a mining company, in order to protect Sacred Natural Sites and Territories, the rights of indigenous/local communities and of Mother Earth.


North America

United States

Community Ordinance recognises Rights of Nature and bans extractive industries

In 2013, Mora County, in Northeastern New Mexico, became the first county in the United States to pass an Ordinance banning all oil and gas extraction. Drafted with assistance from Community Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), the Mora County Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance establishes a local Bill of Rights - including a right to clean air and water, a right to a healthy environment, and the rights of Nature - while prohibiting activities which would interfere with those rights, including oil drilling and hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," for shale gas.

In 2014, the Lafayette community and the CELDF took a mining company to court to recognise and enforce the Community Bill of Rights which bans fracking and recognises rights to self-government and rights of Nature. For other local Ordinances which recognise the Rights of Nature and deny the rights of personhood of corporations, see the CELDF.

Watershed Ecosystem defends its legal rights to exist

In 2014, for the first time in the U.S., an ecosystem sought to defend its legal rights from being violated by an extractive industry. The Little Mahoning Watershed, whose rights to exist and flourish are secured in law by a local Community Bill of Rights Ordinance in Grant Township, intervened in a lawsuit where a gas company sued the Township for defending the community Ordinance which bans frack wastewater. The company claims that the Ordinance violates its constitutional right to inject frack wastewater.

Massachusetts v EPA case

Lawyer Andrew Kimbrell and others successfully argued in court for the Environment Protection Agency to uphold its responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for the implementation of the precautionary principle, and recognition of standing for non-governmental organisations acting in the public interest.

Rights of Nature and the Economics of the Biosphere Declaration

In 2013, Global Exchange and social movement leaders including Indigenous leaders, deep ecologists, economists, climate experts, and activists discussed the emerging Rights of Nature legal framework. Together they developed the Stillheart Declaration which recognises the need for human governance systems especially laws and economies to align with Nature's laws, ecological limits and respect Nature's rights. It calls for redefining human relationship with Earth from property-based to living as part of an Earth Community.


Australasia

New Zealand

Recognition of the Rights of a River

On 30 August 2012, the Whanganui River iwi indigenous community and New Zealand Government signed an agreement which recognises the Rights of the Whanganui River, and the Whanganui River iwi as her Custodians. The Whanganui River iwi indigenous community have a strong spiritual and cultural relationship with the River, based on an understanding that "Ko au te awa, Ko te awa ko au" - ''I am the river and the river is me". They have been advocating for legal recognition of the Rights of the River since 1873. The agreement finally recognises the River as an integrated and living whole entity "Te Awa Tupua'', with legal rights and interests, and the ''owner'' of its own river bed. The Whanganui River iwi are now recognised as joint Guardians entrusted to protect the health and wellbeing of the River for present and future generations.


ASIA

India

Recognition of Sacred Mountain as No-Go Area for mining

In April 2013 the Supreme Court of India defended a sacred mountain and the rights of the Niyamgiri (meaning the mountain that upholds the Sacred law) tribal peoples from mining by the company Vedanta. The Court ordered the State government of India to consult the communities on the proposal to mine. In what was considered an 'environmental referendum' the communities unanimously rejected the proposed mining. The Court also ordered the State to go back to the gram sabha, the authority mandated and obligated by the Forest Rights Act to consider the religious rights of the tribal peoples to worship, and recommended an examination of whether the proposed mining would affect the abode of the tribe's deity, Niyam-Raja. In January 2014 the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests rejected the mining company's plan for forest clearance for the mine. Navdanya and other groups have worked closely with the local movements in Orissa to stop the mining of the mountain for bauxite. For more information see short film 'Mine: Story of a Sacred Mountain' and Vandana Shiva's book Making Peace with the Earth (2013).

Indonesia

Religious ruling prohibits killing of wildlife

In 2014, a fatwa (or religious opinion/ruling) in Indonesia prohibited the illegal hunting and trade of endangered wildlife in the country, and recognised the importance of wildlife for maintaining a balanced ecosystem. The fatwa also urges the government to effectively monitor ecological protection, review permits issued to companies, and bring illegal loggers and wildlife traffickers to justice. While not legally binding the fatwa urges a moral and spiritual obligation to respect and protect animals and their habitats, which are being threatened by development and agriculture. The fatwa supplements existing law in Indonesia, and there has been an indication that the Forestry Ministry would recognise the fatwa and could implement policy changes.


EUROPE

European Citizens Initiative for Rights of Nature

In 2014, Mumta Ito, from the International Centre for Wholistic Law, and a team spanning 15 countries proposed a European Citizens Initiative for the Rights of Nature. The proposed Draft Directive recognises the rights of Nature including to exist, habitat, naturally evolve and be restored, and to have its rights enforced and defended in legal proceedings. Member States should appoint an Ombudsman to investigate breaches of the rights of Nature and make recommendations; and review, adapt and implement national laws in light of the fundamental rights of Nature. For more information see Ecologist Article, short video and please contact info@wholistic-law.org.

UK

Falkirk Community Charter - Recognition of cultural and natural heritage

In 2013, a community-values based Charter in Falkirk, Scotland was adopted by a Community Council, an elected political body - for the first time in the UK. The Falkirk community developed a Community Charter to assert their cultural values and heritage, including healthy ecosystems/ 'natural communities', community resilience and food sovereignty for present and future generations, and their rights and responsibilities of 'self-agency' to protect and defend from coal bed methane extraction and other threats. The Charter also asserts the community's rights and responsibilities to participate in planning processes which could affect their cultural heritage. While the Charter is not a legally binding document, the intention is for it to be taken into account as a 'material consideration' in decisions of the planning system, such as those involving environmental impact assessments of proposed development. The communities are also seeking recognition of the Charter by the Government.

Proposed Nature Act

In 2014, civil society groups called for the UK government to 'act for Nature' and introduce new laws which will protect and restore Nature and increase access to Nature, for the health and wellbeing of ecosystems and humans. The Nature and Wellbeing Act Green Paper recognises that the health of communities, the economy, education and our lives are inextricably linked to the health of Nature, reaffirming that humans need Nature. It would also impose legal commitments to restore Nature, and requirements to establish 'Local Ecological Networks' devolving power to communities to protect Nature, to include environmental education in the school curriculum, to create an independent body to hold government to account, and to encourage access to connect people with Nature. However, there are some concerns about the proposed 'nature capital' approach and putting a price on Nature. In 2015 the House of Commons published the Draft Nature Bill.

Climate Change case

In June 2010, Climate 9 was charged with breach of the peace and vandalism for blockading Aberdeen airport in Scotland. Climate 9 justified their non-violent direct action on the grounds of urgency and moral duty to stop greater crimes of climate change, destruction of Earth, and social inequity to present and future generations. Despite being found guilty of a breach of the peace and fined, Climate 9 continue to campaign for justice for those suffering the impacts of climate change.

Mock Ecocide Trial and Restorative Justice Process

In September 2011, Eradicating Ecocide and Hamilton Group organised a mock Ecocide trial in the UK Supreme Court to examine how cases could be decided if the crime of Ecocide becomes law. One of the fictitious company directors was found guilty and in 2012 agreed to participate in a Restorative Justice Process with the victims, including Earth (voiced by the Gaia Foundation), indigenous peoples and future generations, before being sentenced.

Hungary

Ombudsman for future generations

In 2007 Hungary appointed a Parliamentary Commissioner for future generations to uphold the peoples' Constitutional right to a healthy environment. The Commissioner is entrusted with broad powers to investigate complaints including environmental issues, advocate on sustainability issues and also widen the knowledge base through research projects.

Spain

Legal rights of Apes recognised

In 2008 the environmental committee of the Spanish parliament, in a landmark decision, approved resolutions (e.g. Resolution 161/000099) urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project's which calls for the protection of rights to life, freedom and not to be tortured for chimpanzees, gorillas, orang-utans and bonobos.

Romania

Proposed law to recognise Rights of Dolphins

In 2014, a member of the Romanian Parliament proposed a draft law to recognise dolphins as non-human persons with the rights to life, bodily integrity, free movement and to be protected in their natural environment.

For other inspiring initiatives see the Map of Earth Law Network