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Nature on Board - What if nature had legal rights?


tree canopy

On 19th October, we hosted an intimate community gathering for some of our nature-loving businesses. Brontie Ansell (Lawyers for Nature & Faith in Nature) led an inspirational session on 'Nature positive corporate governance' and shared how Faith in Nature gave Nature a seat and vote on their Board of Directors. Representatives from Pukka Herbs, Sawday's and Faith In Nature attended, and we had a productive and motivational discussion about how we can truly be led by nature. Below, I’ve posed some of these questions for you to consider.


If corporations can be recognised in law with motives, needs and human representation, why can't nature?


It can be difficult for some to imagine nature having legal rights. After all, how can we fully represent and protect nature in law when it cannot advocate for itself? And yet, we do that every day with corporations. Companies like Google and Apple have legal rights and are considered to have their own interests and motives. We appoint people to speak on behalf of these entities and protect their interests. If a corporation is wronged, we have mechanisms to provide compensation. There are laws that dictate what others can and cannot do with a corporation's assets and intellectual property. Although corporations are simply a concept, they are still afforded legal rights. Therefore, extending these same legal protections to nature only makes sense. The bigger question is, why are we yet to do so?


What would happen if we gave nature a voice within business?


Turtle swimming in blue water

If a nature guardian was appointed to the board, how might businesses change? When decision-makers are confronted with the reality of how their actions negatively impact nature, biodiversity, and the climate, it could (and should) fundamentally alter the conversation. It can challenge established ways of thinking and force us to consider issues of philosophy, responsibility, and accountability in a new light.


By creating an entity that decision-makers must answer to, we can bring politics and decision-making closer to where they have the most impact. This would instil a greater sense of responsibility for their actions toward the natural environment and could change business practices. It would also demonstrate to governments, businesses, and charities that having a different conversation about our relationship with nature is possible. It is a beacon of hope that we can change our current paradigms and shift our thinking.


Widening the conversation


Considering nature's perspective could open new pathways and outcomes for what we can achieve for our natural world. It’s an intervention that is daunting, hopeful and exciting. What do you think would happen if nature had legal rights? What would it change for you, your business, friends and family?


At TreeSisters, we are exploring these questions and navigating the challenges of exploring new territories. We welcome you to join us on this journey and share your thoughts on how a world where nature has rights could transform your life. If you’re interested in having a one-on-one discussion about this topic, please get in touch with Miriam Conesa Holmeide, our Head of Business Partners at miriam@treesisters.org.





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