An emerging theory of law called Earth Jurisprudence – also known as ‘Earth Laws’ or ‘Wild Law’ – recognises human interconnectedness and dependence with nature as a prerequisite for ecological sustainability and as the appropriate foundation of our legal system.
The current legal system is human-centred and has been shaped to promote infinite economic growth and industrial development. This orientation effectively treats the environment as a resource that belongs to human beings and can be exploited for human benefit. Environmental law and other regulatory measures play an important role in curbing the excesses of this system. However, the current rate of environmental destruction demands a new approach to environmental protection.
To this end, Earth Jurisprudence seeks to catalyse a shift in law from human-centeredness to a recognition of our interconnectedness with nature. It contends quite plainly that either the human community and the natural world will go into the future as a single community, or we will both perish.
Earth Jurisprudence promotes a number of key principles including:
- the intrinsic right of nature to exist and flourish;
- the need to create governance structures that enable human societies to fit within our ecological limits; and,
- the benefits of engaging with culturally diverse governance structures, including First Nations Peoples’ knowledge systems.
Earth Jurisprudence engages with a broad subject matter that includes (but is not limited to) legal theory, environmental law, economics, First Nations Peoples’ epistemologies, cosmology, science, religion and environmental philosophy. Innovative and creative work needs to occur in each of these areas if we are to build a truly sustainable and mutually enhancing future society.