Participants in Speak to the Wild unanimously agreed that the old constitutional checks and balances are no longer working for the long-term well being of Canada’s environment, or indeed for a great many of its citizens. We conclude that the time has come to modify Canada’s constitution to include the rights of nature and, following from that, the right to a healthy environment. Luckily, much ground work has already been done around the latter issue, as you can read here.
The Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment
by David Boyd
Fifty years ago, the concept of a human right to a healthy environment was viewed as a novel, even radical, idea. Today it is widely recognized in international law and endorsed by an overwhelming proportion of countries. Even more importantly, despite their recent vintage, environmental rights enjoy constitutional protection in over 100 countries. These provisions are having a remarkable impact, including stronger environmental laws, better enforcement of those laws, landmark court decisions, the cleanup of pollution hotspots, and the provision of safe drinking water.
Canada, unfortunately, is a holdout. Our constitution does not mention the environment, and Canada is one of a dwindling number of countries that refuse to recognize the right to a healthy environment. There are six compelling reasons why Canada needs to modernize its constitution to include this fundamental human right.
Now a helpful link: http://therightsofnature.org/
And finally some books germane to the discussion:
Anonymous. 2011. The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. Global Exchange, the Council of Canadians & Fundacion Pachamama. http://www.canadians.org/rightsofnature.
David Boyd. 2012. The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment. UBC Press.,
David Boyd. 2012. The Right to a Healthy Environment: Revitalizing Canada’s Constitution. UBC Press.