Nature Rights

Waterways Granted Personhood




RnDmS/Shutterstock.com

This year, the Whanganui River, in New Zealand, became the first in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a person. Equally vital, a court in northern India has given the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers, as well as several glaciers, the legal status of “living human entities” to help in the preservation and conservation of the country’s highly polluted waterways, thus allowing polluters to be sued.

These decisions are variants of “rights of nature” measures that date back to the 1970s. More than three dozen U.S. localities have ordinances ascribing varying types of rights to nature or to specific natural objects.

In America, rights of nature activism usually takes the form of ballot initiatives that emerge to contest the power of corporations wherever local natural resources are seen as being threatened. The first such ordinance was passed in 2006, when Tamaqua Borough, in Pennsylvania, sought to protect the town’s drinking water from the nearby dumping of sewage sludge.

More recently, an ordinance from the Boulder (Colorado) County Protectors, with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, asserting the “right to a healthy climate,” was recognized as a federal constitutional right by Judge Ann Aiken, of the U.S. District Court in Oregon.


Source: BBC


This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Eat Right to Sleep Well

Rather than popping a pill, eating certain foods can kick-start hormones that help us get a long, deep night’s sleep.

We Need Clean Waters

Efforts are underway around the country to make polluted waterways clean again and to instill local appreciation for their many helpful roles.

Peter Gros on Preserving Wild Nature

The wildlife expert explains why we should appreciate wolves, snakes and bats and what he finds encouraging about an enlightened focus on wildlife protection.

Running with the Kids

Families with children as young as 5 easily bond when they mindfully run together at a fun pace.

Livable Communities We Love

Across the country, cities from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Portland are finding fresh new ways to create engaging street life for residents while eco-upgrading their green spaces, services and infrastructure.

Add your comment: