What is Earth Law?

Earth Law is a body of law which, in recognising the intrinsic value of nature and the interconnectedness of all life on Earth, puts the well-being of the planet as a whole ahead of human self-interest alone. It ascribes inalienable rights to nature from the perspective that the well-being of each member of the Earth community is dependent on the well-being of Earth as a whole.

Earth Law (sometimes also referred to as Wild Law) encompasses a wide range of initiatives and developments, such as the inclusion of Earth Rights or Rights of Nature in national constitutions, the Earth Charter initiative, the proposed international law of Ecocide and Crimes Against Future Generations, the establishment of an International Court for the Environment, local community initiatives to protect ecosystems and research into whole systems approaches to justice and governance. 

But more than any new written law or rights-based thinking, at its core Earth Law is about a fundamental shift in how we experience our relationship to Earth, and in particular to place – the localities we call home – and how we view our relationships with all other living beings. As cultural historian Thomas Berry famously wrote, “the world is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects”. What underlying ethics should we apply, if we fully recognise and acknowledge this fact?