Victoria Enkvist, Seth Epstein and Marianne Dahlén have received a grant from Formas

25 September 2020

Victoria Enkvist, Seth Epstein and Marianne Dahlén have received a grant from Formas for the research project Realizing the rights of nature. Does development and democracy last? The grant covers four years of research and totals SEK 10,501,000. Seth Epstein is the project manager and the project is linked to the Center for Religion and Society (CRS). The project is closely linked to our new doctoral student in legal history Elin Boyer.

Realizing Rights of Nature: Sustaining Development and Democracy / Att förverkliga naturens rättigheter: Håller utveckling och demokrati

This project examines the environmental, legal, and political implications of the decision to treat natural features and entities as rights-bearing legal subjects. The extension of rights to these new subjects has been the solution in a growing number of jurisdictions over the past decade to the challenges outlined in Goals 15 and 16 of the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: the creation of sustainable management of ecosystems characterized by biodiversity and inclusive, accountable institutions of environmental governance. These largely grassroots initiatives are known by the umbrella term Rights of Nature (RoN). We assess how these initiatives may alter the anthropocentric focus of much environmental protection, the centrality of private property and economic development to individual and collective aspirations, and the political institutions that have justified themselves through the rhetoric of exclusive human flourishing. This project supplies a contextualized, comparative, and historical perspective that so far has been absent from analyses of the potential and challenges of Rights of Nature arrangements. It considers the new legal subjects produced by RoN in relation to the rights-bearing subjects that emerged from previous movements. This perspective allows us to both identify common dynamics that shaped movements’ relationships to fundamental social, political, and legal change and consider how the extension of rights to non-humans may remake these dynamics.

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