Julia Talbot-Jones and I have a paper in Ecology and Society, which is available here. In it, we look at how legal rights for rivers can be given real force and effect, by examining three case studies: New Zealand (the Whanganui River), India (the Ganges and Yamuna rivers), and Victoria, Australia, where we argue that the combination of the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (a statutory corporation) and legal rights to water have given some of the rivers in Victoria a form of legal personhood.
The legal rights for nature movement continues to generate new real-world examples. In New Zealand, Mount Taranaki will join Te Urewera (a national park) and Te Awa Tupua (the Whanganui River) as a legal person. As with the Whanganui River, the new legal status of the mountain is more about reaching a settlement with Iwi than creating legal rights for nature per se, and it will be interesting to see how the management of these new legal entities gives effect to their legal person status.
|Mount Taranaki (source: The Guardian)|
I'm hoping to continue this conversation on legal rights for rivers, and what it means for Australia, at a seminar on 15 February for the River Basin Management Society. I'll be joined by Bruce Lindsay, who will be speaking to the interesting example of the new Yarra River Protection Act, and how it will give a 'voice' to the Yarra.
It should be a really fun evening, as we try to make sense of these groundbreaking legal developments, and what they mean for river protection and management. I'd love to see you there, and you can get your tickets here!