Experts said granting rights and legal protections to non-human entities such as animals, trees and rivers is essential if countries are to tackle climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.
The authors of a report entitled Law in the Emerging Biotechnology say that legal frameworks play a key role in managing human interactions with the environment and biotechnology.
Ecuador And the Bolivia You have already dedicated rights to the natural world, while there is a campaign for Make environmental genocide a prosecutable crime in the International Criminal Court. The Report of the Law Societythe professional body of lawyers in England and Wales, is exploring how the relationship between humans and Mother Earth may be re-calibrated in the future.
Dr. Wendy Schultz, co-author of the report and the future said: “There is a growing understanding that something very different must be done if our children are to have a planet to live on that is in any way fun, let alone survive. So this is an expanding trend. Is it happening? As fast as any of us would like? Probably not, which is why it’s important to get the word out.”
Its co-author, Dr Trish O’Flyn, an interdisciplinary researcher who was previously the national civil emergency leader at the Local Government Association, said legal frameworks should be “appropriate for more than a human future” and developments such as genetic modification or engineering. That means covering everything from Labradors to lab-grown brain tissue and rivers to robots.
“We sometimes see ourselves as being outside of nature, and that nature is something we can manipulate,” O’Flin said. “But actually we’re from nature, we’re in nature, we’re just another species. We happen to be at the top of the evolution tree in some ways, if you look at it in that linear kind of way, but in fact the global ecosystem is much more powerful than us. And I think that might It’s starting to appear the way we think.
“Evolutionary evolution may be one example of a right, whereby a species and individual… are allowed to reach their full cognitive, emotional, and social potential.”
Such a right could apply to pigs in intensive hog farming, calves taken from their mothers and even pets, O’Flynn said, adding, “I say that as a dog lover. We restrict their behavior to suit us.”
Advances in biotechnology also raise questions about the ethics of returning species from extinction or eliminating existing species. Scientists are exploring Bringing back the woolly mammoth There was a discussion about eliminate mosquitoesthat transmit malaria and other diseases.
“We are not wise enough to manage all of these capabilities and manage the cascading effects of the decisions we make about our relationship with the living environment,” Schultz said. “Part of the problem is including some kind of framework for accountability and responsibility for the consequences of these things that we do, and that’s where the law comes in.”
The authors acknowledge potential resistance from very different traditions and beliefs in some Western countries, compared to Ecuador and Bolivia, where nature rights were granted under socialist governments and were influenced by indigenous beliefs (as was ban 2019 on climbing Uluru in Australia).
“Granting something that is culturally audible rights just so you can preserve it leads us to a kind of assessment that, among other things, is a cultural shift away from the great Judeo-Christian chain of existence—the control of nature,” Schultz said. “This is reshaping it to put us in the place we have always been and where we should think of ourselves as belonging, just as a node in this largest web of life on this planet.”
“If this worldview can be enshrined in law, granting personality rights to the spirit of the river or the spirit of trees or the spirit of the elephant, you are talking about enshrining some kind of neo-pantheism in the twenty-first century law framework.”