What is Legal? Who Has Rights?

Our picture would be incomplete if we did not talk about Community Rights and Rights of Nature. Under the current structure of law, it is legal to pollute lakes and rivers, the soil beneath our feet. Nature is treated as property. She has no rights. Natural systems sustain life, but they have no protection.

Likewise, our inalienable right to life and well-being can be preempted by state and federal laws granting corporations permission to use and abuse the land and water that we rely on. So, if a company identifies a location for a mining operation or an industrial farm, it simply has to complete a permitting process to gain access to that location. Local communities are not protected from this kind of ‘development’. The byproducts of these operations are contaminated water and soil and air. This presents a challenge and an opportunity. 

In rural and urban landscapes, communities are are fighting back and organizing to protect their inalienable right to live and thrive in the places they call home. These efforts have helped communities to identify what they value and establish legal protections for those values. Information, resources and remarkable stories of communities pursuing rights can be found at celdf.org (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) 

Community Rights

We envision a promising economic landscape for local communities in which the interdependent relationship of nature and people is acknowledged in the establishment of regenerative economies designed to empower communities (and farmers) to depend on healthy ecosystems to sustain life. 

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Acting as custodians of our local landscapes, we recognize the Rights of Nature to thrive, evolve naturally and to sustain life. We acknowledge our responsibility to restore the health and well-being of damaged ecosystems to leave in the care of future generations. To support our vision we claim the following rights:

Economic Rights

All members of a community have the inalienable right to live, participate, and thrive in economies designed to sustain the health and well-being of the community recognizing the common needs of the population including affordable and accessible sources of these necessities: food and water, housing and land, transportation, education, childcare, eldercare, comprehensive healthcare, economic opportunity, and just compensation for all forms of employment. 

Democratic Rights

All members of a community have the inalienable right to participate in self-government with the authority to protect fundamental rights from encroachment or violation including government pre-emption or nullification of those rights by laws written to grant rights to corporations. 

Ancestor Rights

As the ancestors of future generations, we claim the right to direct our public investments wisely to establish a comprehensive economic infrastructure to support and maintain successful regenerative local economies designed to provide an enduring foundation to sustain life including a wealth of diverse sources of locally- adapted food and seed, clean water, and renewable energy. Additionally, we claim the right to eliminate public subsidies for economies that erode the vitality of ecosystems including the industrial food chain and fossil fuel industry.

*This is a prototype designed to be a springboard for community dialogue for pursuing rights.*

Rights of Nature

We are custodians of a living planet

Acting as custodians of our local landscapes, we recognize the inalienable Rights of Nature to exist, thrive, regenerate and to sustain life.  Rivers have a right to flow free of contamination. Soils are living systems that have a right to health. Pollinators have a right to live in healthy ecosystems.  

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Nature’s economy is the foundation for sustaining life. Therefore, communities have a right and a responsibility to work in partnership with Nature by implementing integrative regenerative economies within local landscapes designed to promote their mutual well-being.

We are responsible for putting our house in ordeR

We acknowledge that current economic dependence on destructive practices has compromised the living systems on which we all depend and has left us vulnerable to the forces of climate change, and food and water insecurity. We acknowledge the right of natural systems to be revived and restored to health.

To that end we claim the right to direct our shared public resources to shape thriving local economies designed to restore the vitality of natural systems and their capacity to sustain life, and our responsibility to discontinue public subsidies to economies designed to rely on destroying ecosystems.

People rely on healthy ecosystems. The State shall prohibit the use of current, or the introduction of additional, organisms, and organic or synthetic material, that alter with the genetic material within ecosystems. Further the State shall implement preventative and restrictive measures on activities that lead to the extinction of species and the alteration of natural cycles.

Communities are organizing to provide NATURE with the rights she needs.

TAKE HEART: Colombia Constitutional Court finds Atrato River possesses rights.