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Wild Laws challenge existing Legal System to protect us from environmental harm - new report

Mar 12, 2009

Further information
Vicki Elcoate

Leading environmentalists from around the globe have welcomed a pioneering international research project to examine the existence of Wild Laws.

The report’s authors(2), from the UK Environmental Law Association(3) and the Gaia Foundation(4), argue that current environmental law has not served us well.

Thousands of species face extinction, habitats are being lost daily, climate change threatens the fabric of the planet and humans the world over face the loss of a good quality environment, which is essential to human life on earth.

They went in search of “Wild Law” – laws based on the harmonious existence of man with nature and nature with man: probably the first ever attempt to review existing substantive law from a Wild Law perspective.

The research did not discover a serious Wild Law approach to legislation anywhere, with the Earth being referred to as a resource and valued and measured largely for its economic worth nearly universally.

However there were “Wild Law” examples in New Zealand and in the new constitution of Ecuador, in South America. These point the way forward if we are to be serious about protecting the environment, and our quality of life on earth.

“In the same way that we are now re-examining the very foundations of our financial systems, in the wake of the 2008 banking collapse, so we now need to examine the foundations of our legal systems. What makes anyone suppose that these are any more “fit for purpose” than our financial systems? This report provides exactly that kind of stirring challenge.”

- Jonathan Porritt CBE, environmentalist, founder Director of Forum for the Future, chairman UK Sustainable Development Commission

"The need to forge a new and healthier relationship between the human race and the planet that sustains us could not be more urgent. This unique paper is a significant step towards making that possible through radical change in how we think about law and about nature."

- Professor Wangari Maathai, Green Belt Movement, Kenya, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

"This important contribution will inspire debate, new thinking and action. It looks beyond present constraints and approaches, and experience teaches us that what may be seen as over-reaching at one time soon becomes conventional wisdom".
- Professor Philippe Sands QC, barrister at Matrix chambers and professor of international law at University College London

Notes to the editors:

If you would like to attend the launch of the report in London on March 24th, chaired by Tracy Worcester, please let me (Vicki Elcoate) know. Copies of the report will be available at the launch and in advance on request.

The report’s authors are Begonia Filgueira, of UKELA, and Ian Mason, of UKELA and the Gaia Foundation. The report’s supervisor was Professor Lynda Warren.

UKELA is the UK charity which aims to make the law work for a better environment and to improve understanding and awareness of environmental law. UKELA's members are involved in the practice, study or formulation of Environmental Law in the UK and the European Union. UKELA, as a membership organisation, 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.

The Gaia Foundation (Gaia) is an international NGO committed to cultural and biological diversity, and a living Earth democracy. Through a network of Associates, advisors and partner organisations, Gaia works at all levels; from the grassroots with peasant farmers and indigenous communities, through to the regional and international level with policy-makers and governments.

UK Environmental Law Association - Better law for the environment
Registered charity 299498; company registered in England number 2133283
Registered office: One Glass Wharf, Bristol, BS2 0ZX

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