Photo: Creative Commons, Rita Willaert, 2005

Rights of Nature movement spreads as India and New Zealand give legal personhood to glaciers and rivers

April 14, 2017

Rights of Nature movement spreads as India and New Zealand give legal personhood to glaciers and rivers

The latest countries to give legal rights to nature in conservation efforts are New Zealand and India, who both handed down rulings recently.

New Zealand awarded legal personhood to the Whanganui river after the Maori tribe won litigation to protect the river in March of 2017. The ruling now makes it illegal to do harm to the river. The tribe has been fighting for the river to be recognized as their legal ancestor for 140 years, making it the longest litigation battle in New Zealand history.

In India, courts granted legal personhood to Himalayan lakes, forest, waterfalls and to the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers, in addition to the same rights granted to the Ganga and Yamuna rivers, which are fed by the glaciers, in March. The decision was in part spurred by the fact that the glaciers have been receding at alarming rates and the two rivers have suffered extensive pollution damage from human sources.

The Indian court was quoted by AFP as saying: “The rights of these entities shall be equivalent to the rights of human beings and any injury or harm caused to these bodies shall be treated as injury or harm caused to human beings.”

The Rights of Nature conservation movement has been picking up steam ever since Ecuador gave legal rights to nature in their constitution in 2008, and has since spread to other countries like Bolivia and cities in the United States like Santa Monica, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Madeleine Sheehan Perkins

Related News

Grantee spotlight: National Park Service

LDF has partnered with the National Park Service on their GPS collar tracking study to conserve and protect the threatened mountain lion population in the greater Los Angeles area.  

Global Fishing Watch

Global Fishing Watch, a project of Google, SkyTruth, and LDF grantee Oceana, is tapping into GPS and satellite technology to combat IUU fishing occurring throughout the world. The goal: to increase transparency and stop illegal fishing by informing governments, consumers, and businesses of harmful and dangerous industry practices.

Peru commits to publish vessel tracking data through Global Fishing Watch

Oceana applauds the efforts of Peru and Indonesia to promote fishing transparency.

Grantee spotlight: Conservation Land Trust newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter from LDF grantee the Conservation Land Trust (CLT) and learn about their bold work to rewild the Ibera wetlands in northeastern Argentina. LDF has been supporting CLT and their Ibera Rewilding Program in order to reintroduce the critically endangered jaguar as well as many other species, such as the Pampas Deer and Giant Anteater,… View Article

Leonardo DiCaprio continues efforts to protect endangered vaquita

  Mexico Commits to Protecting Critically-Endangered Marine Ecosystems Effort Supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and the Carlos Slim Foundation MEXICO CITY – JUNE 7, 2017 – Today, during a meeting between President Enrique Peña Nieto, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carlos Slim, and senior government officials at the Official Residence of Los Pinos, a Memorandum of Understanding… View Article