How integrated conceptions of earth rights and human rights in indigenous traditions can teach the Global North about true sustainability

Elizabeth Harrop, Sam Hyde, Olivia Ronan

I co-authored the chapter with two students – Sam Hyde student ASP member, and Olivia Ronan. Love working with young people to help them along the way. And their research and written inputs were superb and a real help. 

Thanks so much! Elizabeth”

16 June 2022

Suggested citation: Harrop, E., Hyde, S. and Ronan, O. (2022) How integrated conceptions of earth rights and human rights in indigenous traditions can teach the Global North about true sustainability. In Pathak, Y.V. and Adityanjee, A. (editors) Human Rights, Spirituality and Religious Freedom: Perspectives from the Dharmic and Indigenous Cultures. Kovidnam Vani, Delaware, USA.

Abstract

Photo by Berend Leupen on Unsplash

The deeply spiritual and practical relationship between Indigenous cultures and the earth is one founded on a holistic worldview where everything and everyone is interconnected. This is a conceptual framework that industrialized society has long pilloried, but is now being forced to confront as it grapples with supply chain issues, increasing levels of homelessness, inward migration and a cost-of-living crisis resulting from complex intersections relating to conflict, climate change and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 response measures.

Conceptions of earth right and human rights can both be found in indigenous societies, but are seamlessly integrated in support of each other. This stands in contrast to conceptions of earth rights and human rights in international and domestic legal systems where these frameworks can clash, for example either through denying Nature Rights, or through a forest guard system which views nature as a distinct entity to be protected from humans, and denies many indigenous rights as a result.

As we are forced headlong into a world of complex global emergencies as a result of the abuse and negligence of the West, indigenous ways of being have much to teach industrialized society, and indeed may provide the only option for sustainable ecosystems that are still welcoming of humans. There is a sense that many of us need to decolonize ourselves of deeply rooted, but false ways of being with the world, in order to achieve this.

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