Living Within Our Ecological Limits
AUSTRALIAN EARTH LAWS CONFERENCE
I have recently attended a conference in Brisbane entitled “Living within our Ecological Limits: Law and Governance to Nurture the Earth Community”. This is a fascinating movement, inspired by the work of Cormac Cullinan, who in turn was inspired by the work of Thomas Berry. It was a great experience to be with people committed to the future of the Earth community, many of whom are working in ecological economics and in environmental law. However, it was deliberately a multi-disciplinary conference, and one could also encounter activists, Green Senators, and those committed to ecospirituality. The participants were united in their desire to foster and work from an Earth-centred world view.
Among the highlights for me was the opportunity to hear first-hand from someone from Ecuador where the rights of nature have now been enshrined into the Constitution, even though the presenter was the first to admit that it was not being implemented. A neighbouring country, Bolivia, has adopted a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Nature, as it was not deemed feasible to get a change in the Constitution. A similar opinion was expressed about the situation in Australia. Bracketed in the same group of presenters, was a person from New Zealand where the rights of the Wanganui River have been passed into law. Maori people have been very active in getting that result.
On the first evening there was a mock trail where the Barrier Reef took the Qld government to court for bringing about its demise. It was very smart and funny, but in the words of June Norman, the 70-something year old woman who has recently walked from Cairns to Gladstone to draw attention to the impact of mining on the reef, “It was often too true to be funny!! “
So a new role is emerging in the legal arena where people are being called up to represent the voice of nature in the courts. This gives new impetus to our need to foster ways of listening to Earth, not only so that its voice can be heard, but also so that we can be more attuned to hearing the voice of God through the whole Earth community.
I anticipate that some of the presentations will be posted at their website:
Messages to Mary Tinney rsm