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03 Dec 2021

Historic Rights of Nature motion coming before council

"We are not separate from Nature. What happens to the rest of Nature happens to us all"

Historic Rights of Nature motion coming before council

Rights of Nature motion to come before council next week

Donegal County Council could make a little bit of history at its meeting on Monday next when it can become thew first local authority in the republic of Ireland to endorse a call to rethink our relationship with nature.

The motion is being submitted by Inishowen councillor, Albert Doherty, on behalf of the Donegal branch of the Rights of Nature Campaign and the Gathering which is an all-island network of environmental and community campaign groups.

The Donegal motion comes on the back of neighbouring councils Derry City and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh-Omagh District Council having debated and passed similar motions in recent months.

Several other council regions including Belfast and Newry and Down are also at various stages of incorporating the Rights of Nature concept into their policies and practices.

In doing so, these councils and the communities that they represent, are becoming part of a rapidly growing Earth wide phenomenon.

James Orr of environmental organisation Friends of the Earth who are strong supporters of the campaign commented on this latest development.

"In the United States, Ecuador, India and New Zealand and many other countries there is a growing recognition that in order to adequately respond to climate breakdown and widespread damage to nature we must recognise the interdependency of all life on the planet including human life.

"The Blue Mountain City Council in Australia has pioneered this approach and this motion draws from their recent experience. Within the European Union there is a growing debate recognising the Rights of Nature.

"Essentially Rights of Nature is a way of rethinking our relationship with nature - from one of dominance to one of sharing, caring, respect and interdependency.

"It can also act as a catalyst to shift our thinking from an extractive economy towards a regenerative economy. The idea of nature having rights is not new.

"Nature has rights. What is new is how we can intervene using a rights of nature lens to protect nature and to recognise the intrinsic rights of ecosystems and species to evolve, flourish and regeneratem" he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Rights of Nature Campaign in Donegal, local representative, Rose Kelly, said the motion coming before council on Monday next presents a vital opportunity for Donegal County Council to be an environmental leader by becoming the first council in the Republic of Ireland to recognise that Nature has rights.

"It is an opportunity to show a special kind of leadership that is urgently needed as we collectively face both climate and biodiversity emergencies.

"Emergencies that have not been nearly adequately addressed in the recent COP negotiations. In a time when we are living through what scientists are calling an’ era of mass of extinction’ and a ‘code red for humanity’."

Ms Kelly added: "The Rights of Nature motion goes hand in hand with recognizing the rights of communities. Their rights of access to clean air, clean water, clean soil for growing food, and a living landscape that can sustain both present and future generations. We are not separate from Nature. What happens to the rest of Nature happens to us all.

"We are collectively faced with a crisis of enormous proportions but we are also faced with an amazing opportunity. An opportunity to learn from the terrible mistakes we have made as a species that have brought us to this state of emergency for all life on Earth, and to do things differently from now on.

"Recognising that all of Nature, not just the human part, has rights, is a great place to begin," she said.

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