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Accepted Paper:

Mobilising Knowledge and Rights for Ecological Transitions: An Examination of Epistemic Pluralism in the Rights of Nature Movement  
Laura Schimmöller (Free University Berlin)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper examines how the global rights of nature movement promotes novel ecological knowledge. Creating spaces where climate science co-exists alongside indigenous cosmologies, the movement re-imagines the role of epistemic pluralism in the fight for ecological justice.

Paper Abstract:

The global rights of nature (RoN) movement is part of a recent turn towards ecocentric governance approaches. Since the creation of a new constitution in Ecuador in 2008 which enshrined the rights of ‘Mother Earth’, the movement has expanded globally; from other Latin American countries to New Zealand and the US as well as Europe, with recent legislation creating legal personality of the Mar Menor lagoon in Spain. By granting legal rights to ecosystems or ‘Mother Earth’, the movement contributes not only to the transformation of environmental law, but also to an integration of non-Western ecological values and practices. This is informed by a strong connection to indigenous movements and spiritual thought leaders.

Behind the mobilisation of more-than-human rights lies a fundamental conflict about solutions to ecological crises: One where institutionalised responses to environmental issues are contested, and instead, the focus is placed on approaches that are informed by a plurality of epistemologies—where climate science co-exists alongside indigenous cosmologies.

This paper looks specifically at how the RoN movement contributes to decolonial and ecocentric transitions by including the voices of diverse epistemic communities and by centering the participation of indigenous and local knowledge producers. Drawing on official publications and participant observation surrounding the civil society-organized Rights of Nature tribunal and the United Nations Harmony with Nature dialogues, I look at how the RoN movement challenges environmental discourses within global institutions. I find that, beyond its legal contributions, the movement re-imagines the role of epistemic pluralism in the fight for environmental justice.

Panel OP190
Enabling just ecological transitions: mobilising sacred knowledges and cosmologies to address polycrisis
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -