CELDF Media Statement: Florida Democrats Adopt Rights of Nature in Party Platform

The action is the first of its kind by a state political party in the United States.

Repost from CELDF–Thank you for all of your good work!

Thomas Linzey, Esq.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

Mel Martin

MERCERSBURG, PA: On Saturday, the Florida Democratic Party approved a new party platform which includes the Rights of Nature. This is believed to be the first time such a provision has been included in a state political party platform in the United States.

The platform reads:

We resolve to adequately protect our waters, support communities’ rights in reclaiming home rule authority and recognizing and protecting the inherent rights of nature… 

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is working closely with communities across Florida to advance the rights of Nature and local communities.

Mel Martin of Cocoa, FL, a member of the Florida Democratic Party, explained the need for the platform resolution: “From an advocate’s perspective, nowhere is it more apparent than Florida that current laws and policies have failed to protect our waters from recklessly-planned and poorly-managed human impact. In declaring the need for a paradigm shift, Florida Democrats demonstrated the bold initiative necessary to change the conversation from ‘nature is property, to be used and abused for profit,’ to ‘nature is alive, and deserving of respect for its rights.’”

“Co-existing with healthy ecosystems is a nonpartisan issue,” Martin continued. “I hope our Republican and third-party brothers and sisters will consider adding it to their respective platforms as well. I’m lucky to be working with great Floridians, of all political affiliations, as communities across the state implement these concepts into local charters, authoritatively declaring rights and values we hold to be true.”

Thomas Linzey, who is leading CELDF’s efforts in Florida, stated, “There is a growing effort across Florida to protect the rights of rivers and other ecosystems to exist, regenerate, and be restored. As we see in headlines every day, we have pushed nature to the brink, and it’s time to make the difficult but necessary changes in how we govern ourselves toward the natural world.”

Linzey added, “We congratulate the Florida Democratic Party on leading the way for the kind of systemic change that is needed. We also congratulate the many people across Florida who are advancing rights of nature laws in their communities.”

CELDF is partnering with communities across Florida to advance the Rights of Nature. Grassroots groups in Alachua, Orange, Lee, Brevard, Osceola, and other counties are advancing laws to recognize the legally enforceable rights of water bodies, including the Santa Fe River, Wekiva River, Econlockhatchee River, Caloosahatchee River, Indian River Lagoon, and the Kissimmee River.

CELDF assisted in drafting the local measures as part of a growing movement to use municipal law-making to recognize the legal rights of ecosystems, and to challenge corporate power and undemocratic forms of state preemption that have allowed the degradation of rivers, springs, and aquifers. These efforts, and the Florida Democratic Party resolution, come in the face of state-level efforts in Florida to clamp down on the powers of communities on a host of issues, including their authority to establish stronger environmental protections than in place at the state level.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

CELDF has been a pioneer in advancing legal Rights of Nature, working with the first places in the world to secure the Rights of Nature in law.  CELDF is building a movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature to advance democratic, economic, social, and environmental rights – building upward from the grassroots to the state, federal, and international level. It is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization.

Featured image:  Back down on the Santa Fe River. Young ibises all in a row by anoldent in Flickr Creative Commons

Legal system isn’t set up to protect environment (via Gainesville Sun)

Check out this new Gainesville Sun article by Lucinda Faulkner Merritt, who writes:

Our laws have historically been written and interpreted to give precedence to business and commerce, to private property rights, to the idea of legal “standing,” and to the ability of state and federal laws to preempt local laws.

In particular, the legal concept of “standing” makes it almost impossible to argue for the restoration, protection and preservation of whole ecosystems (such as the Santa Fe River) unless you own all the land where those ecosystems exist. That’s because those ecosystems have no inherent rights of their own, hence no legal “standing.”

Lu Merritt, Sept. 2, 2019, Gainesville Sun

Lu Merritt goes on to raise some excellent questions regarding what our legal system can and cannot do in protecting our local commons, and suggests some next steps in where we should go from here. You can find the article at the Gainesville Sun.