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Bamboo Forest, China (Courtesy of Kelly Dorkenoo)

Rights of Nature Law and Policy

The law has seen the beginning of an evolution toward recognition of the inherent rights of Nature to exist, thrive and evolve. This evolving legal approach acknowledges that the traditional environmental regulatory systems generally described herein regard nature as property to be used for human benefit, rather than a rights-bearing partner with which humanity has co-evolved. Rights of Nature is grounded in the recognition that humankind and Nature share a fundamental, non-anthropocentric relationship given our shared existence on this planet, and it creates guidance for actions that respect this relationship. Legal provisions recognizing the Rights of Nature, sometimes referred to as Earth Jurisprudence, include constitutions, national statutes, and local laws. In addition, new policies, guidelines and resolutions are increasingly pointing to the need for a legal approach that recognizes the rights of the Earth to well-being.

Member States







1New Zealand

1United States


  • At the IUCN World Conservation Congress (Hawaii, United States of America, 1-10 September 2016) two resolutions addressing rights of nature were adopted. Resolution on Crimes against the Environment (Res. 078) and Resolution on Humanity's right to a healthy environment (Res.089)

    Resolution 078 notes "that the Earth Charter calls for a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace, and that IUCN Resolution 5.100 Incorporation of the Rights of Nature as the organizational focal point in IUCN's decision making (Jeju, 2012), calls for consideration of the Rights of Nature as a "fundamental and absolute key element" in all areas of IUCN intervention and decision making, and invites development of a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Nature. Full text available in French and Spanish

    Resolution 089 invites "States and all stakeholders in the international community to support the adoption of international and regional declarations and conventions that contribute to the recognition of the rights of humanity and all living beings to the environment and the rights of nature". Full text available in French and Spanish.

    The rights of nature are also an integral part of the IUCN Programme 2017~2020 (see pages 15, 26 & 35).
  • At the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium (Oslo, Norway, 20 to 24 June 2016), the IUCN WCEL Ethics Speciality Group adopted the Oslo Manifesto for Ecological Governance which addresses the urgency to adopt a non-anthropocentric or Earth-centered worldview.
  • The IUCN World Congress on Environmental Law (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 26 to 29 April 2016) adopted Rights of Nature in its World Declaration on the Environment Rule of Law (see Principle 2).
  • At the IUCN World Conservation Congress (Jeju, South Korea, 6-15 September 2012), Resolution on the Rights of Nature (WCC-2012-Res-100) was adopted. Also available in French and Spanish.

The Green Party of England and Wales
  • On 28 February 2016, the Green Party of England and Wales adopted a Rights of Nature policy platform. See Responsibilities and Rights 406 and 1000-1006. Also available at: https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/rr.html

G77 + China


UN Forum on Forests (UNFF)