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Home arrow Political science arrow Sustainability of Agro-Food and Natural Resource Systems in the Mediterranean Basin


Over less than a decade, the idea of expanding notions of governance to recognize the rights of all aspects of Earth to self-expression—and imposing legally enforceable duties on humans and corporations to respect those rights—has gained a significant foothold in global discourse. The adoption of an Earth jurisprudence approach is no longer unthinkable or laughable, and countries like Ecuador and Bolivia are grappling with how to implement it in practice. People around the globe are now using this language to express their understanding that their well-being, rights, and freedoms cannot be maintained without recognizing and protecting the rights and freedoms of all beings that collectively constitute the Earth community that enfolds and sustains us all.

At present, the societal forces that wish to maintain current approaches to governance remain formidable, and for many people the prospects of shifting to governance based on Earth jurisprudence seems implausible. Yet because industrialized civilization is demonstrably unsustainable in its current form, fundamental change is inevitable. Only the nature and direction of that change remains to be determined. The factors that appear to be driving the move toward a more integral approach to governance are all strengthening, and they will likely become increasingly powerful in the future. At the same time, the solutions proposed from within the industrialized worldview (such as increased commodification of ecosystem services and better technology) lack conviction and would exacerbate many problems, such as the yawning chasm between the very wealthy and everyone else.

If ecocentric approaches to governance are to gather force during the next few decades, activists and opinion makers that are currently active in a wide range of realms—animal rights, human and civil rights, indigenous peoples' rights, conservation, environment and climate change, youth, faith, labor, and women—will need to recognize that they would all benefit by collaborating on a common agenda. This agenda would recognize the rights and freedoms of all beings as the basis for a new form of society and as a means of counteracting the property-based powers of corporations and the public institutions that advance their interests.

Global society may already be in the early stages of a tectonic shift in thinking that will fundamentally change the terrain on which the future direction of society will be contested. If the trends discussed above continue, concepts like living well in harmony with nature will begin to replace economic growth as the primary goal of societies, and impairments of ecosystem functioning will be regarded as unlawful unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying a temporary infringement. Communities will see their primary allegiances as being to the places that they love and that sustain them, rather than to political parties or nation states, and will assert their rights to self-determination increasingly strongly. We may then begin to use our creativity in ways that are consciously aligned with the wild creativity that animates the unfolding of the universe, and our civilizations may recover a sense of belonging and purpose.

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