Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic, and environmentsl justice around the world.

A chance for youth to “right” a sustainable future

15th June, 2012 - Posted by Kylie Nealis - No Comments

The following piece was written by Megan Devlin, the Community Rights Program Summer Intern. She is a Communications Management and Design major at Ithaca College and lives in Old Lyme, CT.

Should a river have the right to flow? Do trees have the right to grow? What does it mean to recognize the inherent rights of nature and how different would our world look if we did? These are just a few of many questions youth will come together to discuss this summer at our Rights of Nature Youth Summit — with your help.

Last week, the Community Rights Program entered the “Doing GOOD This Summer” challenge for a chance to win $5,000 to create social and environmental change. But here’s the catch — only the idea with the highest number of votes can win. We need your vote to make our “good” vision a reality.

Today’s youth must bare the future consequences of our current approaches to protecting and conserving the planet’s resources. Young people, who have been collectively termed The “Waking Up” Generation, have a unique potential to do just that: be strong advocates for nature’s well-being and wake everyone else up to a rights-based framework that is necessary to ensure a just future for the earth. We must strive for truly sustainable development and laws that respect nature, instead of exploiting it, for market-based financial benefits. It is up to the younger generation to move this vision forward.

Our proposal is to host a Rights of Nature Youth Summit that gives young people the tools to initiate campaigns in their communities that will protect the environment and assert their democratic power. We will introduce youth to a new rights-based framework of organizing that more than 140 communities across the U.S. have adopted in order to assert their rights to local self-governance and prohibit unwanted corporate activity where they live.

Help Global Exchange start the youth movement with your VOTE for our proposal and the chance to win $5,000 for a Rights of Nature Youth Summit:

Youth will learn about the emerging global movement of Rights of Nature and how recognizing legal rights for nature provides us with tools for protecting the environment. By exploring the concepts of community and nature’s rights, law and democracy, participants can begin to recognize the inherent rights of nature, understand how to apply these new ideas to their local communities and strategize ways to assert their self-governing rights over corporations.

Ideally, the Youth Summit would be held in a community meeting space that also has an on-site ropes course. We would begin with team-building exercises at the ropes course in order to begin building the people-to-people relationships that are central to rights-based work. Through experiential learning, youth will participate in a combination of interactive exercises and sessions that incorporate learning pieces of rights-based organizing, the history of corporate power, the limits of current environmental regulatory law, and what the movement for communities and nature’s rights currently looks like.

Our goal is to create a space where youth can lead discussions on how they can use Rights of Nature as a tool for protecting their local environments and generate ideas and action plans for how they can engage in Rights of Nature work after the summit — and personalize it for their own communities.

Vote today! Voting is open now through Friday, June 29 at 12:00 PM (PDT). Spread the word to friends, colleagues, allies and other networks to keep the energy going around this exciting opportunity for Global Exchange to empower youth about how to create a more sustainable future!

If you’re on social media, consider posting the following:

  • Join the public Facebook event and invite your friends!


P.S. Check back next week for the launch of our newest report, Rights of Nature: Planting the Seeds of Change

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