Advancing the Rights of Nature for a Future of Arctic Abundance

Date: September 3, 2022
Time: 3:30 pm-4:00 pm

Location: Centennial Center Theater, Pioneer Park

Presented by Nicholas Parlato, UAF Center for Arctic Policy Studies

This presentation introduces the emerging legal paradigm of the “rights of nature” (RoN), a justice-based movement that aligns with Indigenous rights to give “nature” legal standing and empower those with the greatest stake (cultural survival) to serve as its legal representatives. Distinct RoN regimes have been established at multiple jurisdictional scales around the world, including at a constitutional level in Ecuador and Colombia, a federal-tribal level in New Zealand and Bolivia, and a subnational level in India and the United States. RoN is philosophically based in the stewardship practices of Indigenous peoples and their knowledge systems and seeks to transform the Western legal system into a stronger tool for achieving social and environmental justice in the midst of rapid climatic and ecological devastation. The restoration of Indigenous lifeways and the affirmation of the rights of nature were raised jointly as components of a just transition at the Indigenous Just Transition Assembly in 2019, and recent studies have shown that Indigenous leadership and engagement are vital to ensuring positive outcomes for human well-being and conservation of natural systems. This presentation will address the history of RoN legislation, other conservation and Indigenous rights paradigms, and how such a rights-based system might take root in the Arctic.