We assert that our natural ecosystems have an inalienable right to not only exist but to flourish. Rights of Nature is not a new concept; however, its acceptance and implementation in the legal framework is a current and widespread global phenomenon. Its recognition and acceptance in the US is long overdue.
This is a call to recognize our dependency on nature by protecting our ecosystems and by granting our natural resources necessary legal protection and enforceable rights to ensure its health as well as our own survival. Through Rights of Nature, we ensure its ability and right to thrive and prosper rather than to be used as a mere tool of industry and corporate profit.
A New Paradigm for Protecting Nature
"No person, institution, or nation has the right to participate in activities that contribute to large-scale, irreversible changes of the Earth's biogeochemical cycles or undermine the integrity, stability, and beauty of the Earth's ecologies - the consequences of which would fall on succeeding generations as an irrevocable form of remote tyranny."
- David Orr
The Lake Erie Bill of Rights does not simply give Lake Erie rights, it recognizes the rights we have long violated and ignored. Communities burdened by environmental harms have been oppressed by a history of weak environmental policies and regulations that legalize and exempt the unsustainable practices. Digging deeper into the situation we find that these policies are not in place due to a lack of science or solid understanding of cause and effect, but rather that they are led by corporate agendas and secured by a fixed structure of law. Communities do not have the right or legal standing to object to the activities that impact public health, ecosystem sustainability, or economic stability.
Under the Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBOR), Toledoans act as a trustee of Lake Erie capable of legally protecting the inalienable rights of Lake Erie and ensuring its health and quality for its beneficiaries (current and future generations that rely on Lake Erie). We are legalizing sustainability, community rights, and environmental protections.
Rights of nature's presence, albeit brief, is strong in our legal system. In its episodic history, the concept has gained both support and dismissal throughout its earnest attempts to rejuvenate the environmental movement. Toledoans for Safe Water is modernizing the environmental movement by addressing the sweeping impacts that degrade Lake Erie and burden communities and municipalities that lie upstream.
A Rights of Nature framework prioritizes natural ecosystems as life-supporting systems, rather than mere property. This shift acknowledges our dependence on nature and important ecosystems services rather than the rights of an industry to use resources regardless of the negative implications.
Rights of Nature will endure, despite opposition from those seeking to maintain the status quo. When such efforts stand in the way of LEBOR we will change the plan, but not the goal. We have a right to legislate and protect the places where we live and work - foster a safe environment for all life to flourish.
Interested in Rigths of Nature?
This creative video from CELDF will help break it down. For more Fast Facts check out the entire series from CELDF.
Get updated satellite images of Lake Erie from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) CoastWatch.
After years of production the much anticipated premiere of INVISIBLE HAND happened September 4, 6:00 p.m. EDT online.
Watch filmmakers, Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman, Executive Producer Mark Ruffalo, and Rights of Nature advocates Markie Miller and Degaweno:da's answer questions live after the premiere of INVISIBLE HAND.