CGS Event Series: Climate Change

CGS is excited to announce a recording is available for the recent lecture "'We Are the River': Rights of Nature in a Climate Changed World.", by David Takacs (Professor Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair UC Law, San Francisco) taking place on Wednesday, March 27th at 12PM at 306 Coble Hall and Zoom.

Description: The New Zealand Parliament has recently granted the Whanganui River and the Te Urewera mountain ecosystem rights as legal persons, with a Māori governing board to speak for the nonhuman entities. based upon traditional cultural precepts. Far from an isolated precedent, in what the U.N. Secretary General calls "the fastest growing legal movement of the twenty-first century," legislatures, courts, or voters in Australia, Colombia, Ecuador, Bangladesh, India, Uganda, Spain, and the U.S. have also declared that rivers and other living systems have legal rights.

Deriving from disparate historical, philosophical, and legal backgrounds, rights for nature laws pursue disparate goals; yet all of the moves to grant legal rights to nonhuman entities aim to enshrine in the law the fundamental symbiosis between human and nonhuman ecological health, and to empower suitable stewards who will nurture that symbiosis. As these laws inscribe new legal relationships between people and nature, they ask: what does it mean to convert from "we own the River" to "we are the River?" By sanctifying the interdependent relationship between human needs and healthy ecosystems, granting legal rights to rivers may contribute to reversing ecological degradation in this century and beyond.

Biography: Professor David Takacs is an alumnus of UC Law SF. He holds an LL.M. from the School of Oriental & African Studies at the University of London, and a B.S. (Biology), M.A., and Ph.D. (Science & Technology Studies) from Cornell University.  His scholarly work addresses forest carbon offsetting, biodiversity conservation law, environmental and ecological democracy, rights for nature, and the human right to water. He is the author of The Idea of Biodiversity (Johns Hopkins U. Press). He has been a consultant for international NGOs and US government agencies, analyzing legal and policy issues pertaining to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) and global climate change. In 2017, he received the Rutter Award for Outstanding Teaching at UC Law SF.  Before his legal career, David was a professor in Earth Systems Science & Policy at CSU Monterey Bay, a lecturer in the John S. Knight Writing Program at Cornell, and a Peace Corps Forestry Volunteer in Senegal.