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Could 2024 be the year nature rights enter the political mainstream?

Jonathan Watts


Mon 1 Jan 2024 13.15 GMT​

Movement is growing to give legal rights and political representation to nonhuman animals, species and places

Two new coalitions of scientists, lawyers, philosophers and artists have joined the burgeoning global campaign for ecosystems and other species to have legal rights and even political representation.

The More Than Human Rights (Moth) project and Animals in the Room (Air) are exploring bold tactics to further their cause, including authorship claims for forests, policy advocacy on behalf of bears and whales, and fungal strategies to spread ecological thinking.

They represent a new wave of nature and animal rights movements gaining traction amid frustration over humanity’s ultra-exploitative relationship with other species and growing concern about the shortcomings of the technology-and-markets approach to the climate crisis.

“We want to take the idea of rights of nature from the margin to the mainstream. The idea is to embed society in the biosphere,” said César Rodríguez-Garavito, a Colombian legal scholar who heads the Earth Rights Advocacy Clinic at New York University.

Rodríguez-Garavito is the founder of Moth, which intends to set a legal precedent by establishing the creative rights of the Los Cedros cloud forest in northern Ecuador, which has already been recognised as an entity possessing legal personhood and rights under a landmark 2021 judgment by the constitutional court of Ecuador.

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