Arrival of the Rights of Nature in Europe

Jenny García Ruales, Katarina Hovden, Helen Kopnina, Colin D. Robertson, Hendrik Schoukens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Rights of Nature is gradually emerging as a novel template for environmental protection and nature conservation in several countries. Arising from distinct histories and ways of conceiving and dwelling in the world, countries like Ecuador and New Zealand have ushered in a new era for environmental governance by explicitly laying down legal rights and/or personhood for nature as a whole, for ecosystems, and for more-than-human populations. For a considerable time, however, attempts to operationalise rights of Nature remained absent in Europe. In the introduction to this edited volume, it is argued that the recent years have seen a steady increase in attention to the rights of Nature in Europe not only in the academic field but also in explicit legislation. These efforts have borne fruit, notably with the passing of a law in the Spanish Parliament in September 2022, explicitly granting legal personhood and rights to Mar Menor, a saltwater lagoon which has suffered severe degradation during the past decades. After having sketched the substantive underpinnings of the rights of Nature, this introduction posits that the future years will witness an exponential amount of encounters between different conceptions of the rights of Nature and societal institutions on the European continent. In an attempt to further grasp the meaning and significance of the recent arrival of rights of Nature in Europe, a multidisciplinary, nuanced, and critical approach is deemed instrumental. It is concluded that only through dialogues between past, existing, and future governance templates can new underpinnings emerge for the conservation of nature and the environment in Europe and thus bring about more balanced relations with more-than-humans.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRights of Nature in Europe
Subtitle of host publicationEncounters and Visions
EditorsJenny Garcia Ruales, Katarina Hovden, Helen Kopnina, Colin D. Robertson, Hendrik Schoukens
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781040012987, 9781003318989
ISBN (Print)9781032332659
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2024

Cite this