Rights of nature: law & the more-than-human

Arguably, the view that humans are at the centre of things, above and superior to all that is non-human, is one of the fundamental flaws at the heart of our dysfunctional civilisation. And yet so much of our society is grounded in this assumption. In various ways, these speakers are all working at the edge of our understanding of agency, personhood and the extension of legal and cultural frameworks to embrace a fuller understanding of who we are and our relationship to nature. What might society and our legal system look like when we recognise rivers as sacred, forests as an aspect of our own breathing, and humans as plain members of the earth community? Where do such worldviews already exist? How might a radical shift in our society that redefines what it is to have sentience change our culture and translate into concrete frameworks for protecting and asserting the rights of nature?

Participants: Gita Parihar, Carlotta Byrne, Shivali Fulchand, Paul Powlesland and Laura Guarch.


Gita Parihar

Gita was Head of Legal at Friends of the Earth until July 2016 and has spent 12 years working with and for campaigning organisations, using her skills as a solicitor to bring environmental cases and advise at international negotiations on issues like climate change.

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Carlotta Byrne

Carlotta Byrne accompanies a growing network of Earth Jurisprudence Practitioners in Africa who are working at a local, national and regional level to revive Earth-centred governance on the continent. She originally trained as a lawyer specialising in dispute resolution.

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Shivali Fulchand

Shivali is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Stanford University Department of Dermatology. She was the 2019-20 BMJ Editorial Registrar and National Medical Director’s Clinical Fellow, a scheme run by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management.

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Laura Guarch

Laura Guarch is a Catalan vocalist, composer, field recordist and performance maker.

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Paul Powlesland

Paul is passionate about protecting and representing the natural world and all who seek to defend it. He specialises in upholding the rights of environmental activists to protest and protect the natural world, and uses environmental law and regulations to defend trees, rivers and wildlife.

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