FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2020

Montreal, Canada—The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has become the first international environmental treaty proposing to advance the Rights of Nature. This milestone occurred in the updated “zero draft” for a post-2020 global biodiversity framework, which will be up for adoption during the 15th meeting of the “Conference of the Parties” (COP) to the CBD in 2021 in Kunming, China.

Specifically, the zero draft added the following approach to implement the framework: ”Consider and recognize, where appropriate, the rights of nature.”

“We hope this important milestone will inspire State parties to join the growing number of governments worldwide that recognize and enforce the Rights of Nature, while also giving Nature a stronger voice within the Convention on Biological Diversity,” said Ilana Platkiewicz, an Environmental Law Associate at Earth Law Center.

“Recognizing the Rights of Nature makes a respectful relationship between humans and Nature possible. This is the transformative policy action the post-2020 framework needs to fulfill its goals and protect biodiversity, and thereby also have a chance to reach other societal goals,” said Pella Thiel, Coordinator of Rights of Nature Sweden.

Parties to the CBD established open-ended working groups on the post-2020 biodiversity framework in November 2018 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with the goal of creating an ambitious plan to transform society’s relationship with biodiversity and to ensure that, by 2050, the shared vision of living in harmony with nature is fulfilled. 

On January 13, 2020, the CBD Secretariat published a “zero draft” of the post-2020 global biodiversity that did not make reference to the Rights of Nature. In the months that followed, a coalition of organizations—led by Rights of Mother Earth, Earth Law Center, Rights of Nature Sweden, and Earth Advocacy Youth—made submissions advocating for Rights of Nature to be included. On August 17, 2020, the Secretariat released an updated zero draft highlighting the Rights of Nature as a new “enabling condition” of the post-2020 framework.

“Recognizing the Rights of Nature in the Biodiversity convention is a very important component and a milestone for the protection of the natural environment. We hope it will support our endeavor for Nature to be seen and treated as a rights-bearing entity in all national legal systems, with intrinsic rights to exist and flourish, irrespective of its use and value to humans,” said Doris Ragettli, co-founder of Rights of Mother Earth. 

“Youth from all around the world are at the forefront of advancing counter norms such as the Rights of Nature, as they realize that ‘business as usual’ is not an option for them nor the Earth system as a whole. We are very happy to be a part of this important work for the inclusion of Rights of Nature into the Post-2020 framework,” said Hana Begovic, Director and Coordinator of Earth Advocacy Youth.

In 2008, Ecuador became the first country in the world to constitutionally recognize the “Rights of Nature,” thereby granting basic rights to Nature, just as humans possess rights. Globally, Rights of Nature is now recognized to some extent in over a dozen countries, including nationally in Bolivia, in several Mexican states, and at the local and tribal level in the United States.

A growing number of unique ecosystems are also being recognized as subjects of rights. These include the Whanganui River in New Zealand per a treaty agreement and eight rivers or river basins in Colombia after a series of landmark court decisions. Many environmental advocates believe the Rights of Nature movement could be the turning point in the global effort to restore Nature to health, which they argue is impossible so long as Nature is treated as mere human property under the law instead of having its own voice and rights in governance.

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Read the brief sent to the parties of the CBD

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Earth Law Center ( is a 501(c)(3) organization that works to transform the law to recognize and protect nature’s inherent rights to exist, thrive, and evolve. This includes advancing the inherent rights of rivers through initiatives with local partners to secure rights recognition. Grant Wilson, Earth Law Center (, +1-510-566-1063)

Rights of Nature Sweden ( is working with Rights of Nature and Earth jurisprudence as systemic tools for the transition to a society in harmony with nature. We arrange the Earth Rights Conference as a platform for these ideas. Pella Thiel, Rights of Nature Sweden (, +46-73-658 98 84)

Rights of Mother Earth is a global movement campaign for the adoption of a Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth by the United Nations, to complement the Human Rights Declaration. Sign and share the petition at: Doris Ragettli, Rights of Mother Earth (, +41-79-775-7059

Earth Advocacy Youth ( is a coalition of creative, daring, and skilled young professionals working to identify and apply bold ecocentric solutions and practices through youth-led policy, education and legal action. Hana Begovic, Earth Advocacy Youth (