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August 17, 2021 – With the window of opportunity to take meaningful action on climate change and mass extinction closing, a growing number of communities, organizations, and governments around the world are calling for Rights of Nature (RoN) to be legally recognized. RoN advocates are creating new laws that recognize natural ecosystems as subjects with inherent rights, and appealing to courts to protect those rights.

Going beyond theory and philosophy in The Politics of Rights of Nature, Craig Kauffman and Pamela Martin analyze the politics behind the creation and implementation of these laws, as well as the effects of the laws on the politics of sustainable development. Kauffman and Martin tell how community activists, lawyers, judges, scientists, government leaders, and ordinary citizens have formed a global movement to advance RoN as a solution to the environmental crises facing the planet. “Kauffman and Martin’s comprehensive book demonstrates that like the laws of Nature, the Rights of Nature should be real and ineluctable,” said James R. May, Special Representative on Rights of Nature at the International Council of Environmental Law and Distinguished Professor at Widener University Delaware Law School.

Comparing successful and failed attempts to implement RoN at various levels of government in six countries—Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, India, New Zealand, and the United States—the authors ask why these laws emerged and proliferated in the mid-2000s, why they construct RoN differently, and why some efforts at implementation are more successful than others. As they analyze efforts to use RoN as a tool for constructing more ecocentric sustainable development, capable of achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goal of living “in harmony with Nature,” Kauffman and Martin show how RoN jurisprudence evolves through experimentation and reshapes the debates surrounding sustainable development.

“Weaving together captivating stories of community advocacy, this trailblazing book explains why everyone should be wildly cheering the rising power of Rights of Nature,” writes Peter Dauvergne, Professor of International Relations at the University of British Columbia and author of AI in the Wild and Environmentalism of the Rich.

“Given the urgency of the present climate and biodiversity crises and the need to transform our ways of living,” Kauffman and Martin write in the introduction for the book, “we offer a hopeful account of one way to craft a new international relations capable of allowing all living beings on the planet to flourish and regenerate now and into the future.”

About the Authors: Craig M. Kauffman is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon. Pamela L. Martin is Professor of Politics at Coastal Carolina University.

Learn more about the book on the MIT Press website: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/politics-rights-nature

Praise

  • “Kauffman and Martin’s comprehensive book demonstrates that like the laws of Nature, the Rights of Nature should be real and ineluctable.” James R. May Special Representative on Rights of Nature, International Council of Environmental Law; Distinguished Professor, Widener University Delaware Law School
  • “A thoughtful, incisive analysis of one of the most extraordinary legal revolutions of our era, the extension of rights to nature. In light of the global environmental crisis, timely and essential.” Dr. David Boyd UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment; author of The Rights of Nature
  • “Weaving together captivating stories of community advocacy, this trailblazing book explains why everyone should be wildly cheering the rising power of Rights of Nature.” Peter Dauvergne Professor of International Relations, University of British Columbia; author of AI in the Wild and Environmentalism of the Rich