Changing the terrain: The significance of rights of nature for environmental and social activism

Any honest assessment of the effectiveness of environmental movements over the past several decades must conclude that their successes have been insufficient to prevent the on-going degradation of ecological systems.

This brief discussion paper argues that the dominant modes of environmental activism are not only insufficiently effective - they cannot succeed. The primary reason for this is that most environmental organisations have tacitly acquiesced to playing within a set of rules that has been designed to facilitate and legitimate the on-going exploitation of Nature. This means that advocates of ecological sustainability are operating within a political “terrain” which favours those civilisations, corporations and individuals that seek to achieve short-term improvements in the wellbeing of a minority of humans at the expense of Nature and of most humans.