What if ecosystems could sue for violating the rights of nature in places like Alberta's tar sands or Fukushima? What if communities could write new laws that place their rights and local ecosystems above corporate interests?
A growing movement is envisioning and enacting exactly those kinds of scenarios through People's Earth Tribunals. For our 2014 Summit Conference, Bioneers has invited Shannon Biggs, Community Rights Director of Global Exchange, to host a panel exploring the first international Rights of Nature Tribunal held earlier this year, as well as local tribunals currently being planned.
Shannon will be joined for the panel on Sunday, October 19, by Vandana Shiva, founder/Director, Navdanya; Pennie Opal Plant, Idle No More/Gathering Tribes; Robin Milam, Administrative Director, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature; Osprey Orielle Lake, founder/Executive Director, Women's Earth and Climate Caucus; Prajna Marcus, Bay Area Rights of Nature.
We thought we'd offer a little more background on People's Earth Tribunals and why we felt it was important to include this topic at the conference.
About Earth Tribunals
The world’s first Ethics Tribunal for the Rights of Nature took place on 17 January 2014 in Quito, Ecuador.
Vandana Shiva chaired an international panel of judges, who heard nine cases in what she described as a “Seed Tribunal,” in order to determine their admissibility for adjudication at a full hearing to be held in Peru in December, 2014. Global Exchange was there to present one of the nine cases, the case of fracking as a violation of the rights of nature.
One of the key aims of the Tribunal was to show how the framework of existing law is failing to protect the natural world and the defenders of Mother Earth, and how things could look if Rights of Nature were enshrined in law. The Rights of Nature movement proposes a new jurisprudence that recognizes the inherent right of nature to “exist, persist, evolve and regenerate.”
As Shiva said: “This tribunal offers us an opportunity to change our path, and the current path is predictably the path to human extinction. Both the state and the private sector have violated the Rights of Nature. Ecocides are occurring and the people who are defending the Rights of Nature are being persecuted.”
Local Tribunal October 5 in Oakland, CA
The Rights of Nature tribunals are not merely an exercise. They allow us to step inside a new understanding of our relationships with the Earth, and to see—maybe for the first time—how different our future could be if nature is understood not just as property in the eyes of the law, but as a rights-bearing entity.
To that end, Bioneers is promoting the idea of local tribunals, beginning with the first tribunal here in the Bay Area, planned for October 5, 2014, at Laney College in Oakland, California. This tribunal will focus on the Chevron refinery in Richmond and its planned expansion to refine some of the dirtiest crude on earth from the Tar Sands of Canada and the Bakken shalefields of North Dakota.
For more information on the tribunal, email Shannon Biggs at Global Exchange or visit the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance BARONA on Facebook for updates.
And come join us at the 2014 Bioneers Conference on Sunday, October 19 for the panel on People's Earth Tribunals and community rights. Register for the 2014 Bioneers Conference now »