Granting legal rights and protections to non-human entities such as animals, trees and rivers is essential if countries are to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss, which experts say.
According to the authors of the report titled Law in the Emerging Bio Age, legal frameworks play an important role in regulating human interactions with the environment and biotechnology.
Ecuador and Bolivia have ratified environmental rights, with plans to make ecocide a crime prosecuted in the international criminal court. The report for the Law Society, the professional body for lawyers in England and Wales, examines how the relationship between man and mother earth can be improved in the future.
Dr Wendy Schultz, a poet and historian, said: “There is a growing awareness that something different needs to be done if our children are to have a better, less livable planet. , no there’s an expanding trend. Is it as fast as we want it to be? Maybe not, so it’s important to get the word out.”
Its author, Dr Trish O’Flynn, an academic researcher and former national leader for social issues at the Local Government Group, said the legal framework should be “just for the world beyond humanity” and developments such as genetic modification, energy. Of course it covers everything from labradors to lab-grown brain tissue, rivers to robots.
“Sometimes we see ourselves as outside of nature, and nature is something we can control,” said O’Flynn. “But I mean we’re from nature, we’re in nature, we’re a species. We’re at the top of the evolutionary tree in some ways, if you look at it that way, but it’s strong The world’s ecosystems are bigger than we are, and I think that’s starting to show up in a way that we think about.
“An example of justice is evolutionary development, where a species and an individual … are allowed to reach their intellectual, emotional, and social potential.”
Sows can be affected in pig farming, where calves are taken from their mothers and pets, O’Flynn said, adding: “I’m a dog lover. .We force their behavior to please us.
Developments in biotechnology also raise questions about methods for restoring species from extinction or eliminating existing species. Scientists are investigating the reintroduction of woolly mammoths and talk of wiping out mosquitoes, which carry malaria and other diseases.
“We don’t really know how to manage all this energy and manage the ripple effects of the decisions we make about our relationships with the living environment,” said Schultz. “Part of the reason is to introduce some kind of framework for accountability and responsibility for the results of these actions that we take, where the law comes in.”
The authors acknowledge the prohibition of different customs and beliefs in some western countries, compared to Ecuador and Bolivia, which have been given rights to the environment under socialist governments and influence on Indigenous beliefs. (like the 2019 ban on climbing Uluru in Australia).
“To give something is a great power of culture so that you can keep it until it reaches a form of value, among other things, culture is different from the great chain of the Judeo-Christian – power over nature,” said Schultz. “This reconfiguration puts us where we have always been, and where we think we belong, just a node in this larger web of the world.”
“If that vision can be put into law, giving human rights to the spirit of the river, the spirit of the trees, or the spirit of the elephant, you are talking about introducing a kind of neo- pantheism into a 21st century legal framework.”