Santa Monica Recognizes Legal Standing for Ecosystems

By Global Alliance
Friday, April 12th, 2013
Legalizing Sustainability? Santa Monica Recognizes Rights of Nature

11th April, 2013 – Posted by Shannon Biggs
Reprinted from Global Exchange Media Release
First-in-California law seeks to make sustainability legal

On April 9, the City Council of Santa Monica voted 7-0 to adopt the state’s first ever Bill of Rights for Sustainability, directing the city to “recognize the rights of people, natural communities and ecosystems to exist, regenerate and flourish.” Santa Monica joins dozens of U.S. communities, the nations of Ecuador, Bolivia, and New Zealand in the fast-growing movement for Nature’s Rights.

With the passage of this ordinance, Santa Monica challenges the legal status of nature as merely property, and empowers the City or residents to bring suit on behalf of local ecosystems. While not eliminating property ownership, these new laws seek to eliminate the authority of a property owner to destroy entire ecosystems that exist and depend upon that property. The ordinance also mandates the City to follow the Sustainable City Plan as a guide for decision-making to maximize environmental benefits and reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts.

“As a city with very little green space or fresh local water, becoming a model for sustainability and moving toward self-reliance is important for our community’s long term well-being,” says Cris Guttierez, organizer for Santa Monica Neighbors Unite!, a group that organized and mobilized residents to support the law. “We’re proud to be on the cutting edge of environmental protection.”

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