Where can we find the best wild laws?
Sep 25, 2008
An initial report on a worldwide search for laws that give the environment rights to the best possible protection is published at an international workshop this weekend (September 26 – 28).
Supervised by Professor Lynda Warren, of Aberystwyth University, and co-ordinated by the UK Environmental Law Association and the Gaia Foundation, the research analysed environmental laws around the globe to find examples of laws that protect the environment by granting it rights.
Prof Warren said that the traditional approach where only humans, states and corporations have full legal rights has often resulted in failures to protect the environment. “Degradation has continued apace; species have become extinct and others have joined the ranks of the threatened and endangered; and now we are faced with a truly global environmental challenge in the form of climate change. It is true that there have been some positive developments – many water bodies are much cleaner than they once were, for example, but these gains are insignificant in comparison with the losses suffered over the same time period”.
Wild Law suggests that the basis of law shifts from solely protecting humans towards “earth jurisprudence”, where legal rules are drawn more closely from nature. A global panel of researchers and volunteers worked together to try to identify wild laws and assess them against “Wild Law” principles. The initial research examines wild laws in Europe, India, New Zealand and Ethiopia. Following discussions at the workshop the research will be expanded and finalised.
“From one perspective, it can be viewed as an attempt to develop a new philosophy of legal thinking but, at the same time, it is intended to provide some practical pointers to help shape the way we use law to protect the environment”, says Professor Warren. “Until such times as we can persuade human society as a whole to act less selfishly, this may be our best chance.
“The next step is to learn how we can make our environmental laws more effective and this research is a first step towards informing our understanding of the issues”.
1. The research has been supported by the UK Environmental Law Association and the Gaia Foundation, with help from charitable funding sources.
2. The workshop, involving delegates from all over the world, is being held in Derbyshire.
3. A copy of the initial research findings is available on request.
4. UKELA does not support Wild Law as such but it does support this research into whether there are better ways of using the law to create a better environment.
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