Rights of Nature: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Rights of Nature: The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is working with communities that recognize that environmental protection cannot be attained under a structure of law that treats natural communities and ecosystems as property.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund are dedicated to
“Building sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.”
We believe that we are in the midst of an escalating ecological crisis, and that the crisis is the result of decisions made by a relatively few people who run corporations and government. We believe that sustainability will never be achieved by leaving those decisions in the hands of a few – both because of their belief in limitless economic production and because their decisions are made at a distance from the communities experiencing the impact of those decisions. Therefore, we believe that to attain sustainability, a right to local self-government must be asserted that places decisions affecting communities in the hands of those closest to the impacts. That right to local self-government must enable communities to reject unsustainable economic and environmental policies set by state and federal governments, and must enable communities to construct legal frameworks for charting a future towards sustainable energy production, sustainable land development, and sustainable water use, among others. In doing so, communities must challenge and overturn legal doctrines that have been concocted to eliminate their right to self-government, including the doctrines of corporate constitutional rights, preemption, and limitations on local legislative authority. Inseparable from the right to local self government - and its sole limitation - are the rights of human and natural communities; they are the implicit and enumerated premises on which local self government must be built.