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Netherlands Council Grants Legal Rights to Nature

23, November 2023

Netherlands Council Grants Legal Rights to Nature

Here's more good news for Nature's Rights: a local council in the Netherlands has become the first in the country to recognise Nature as a legal entity that can be represented in court. Councillors in Eijsden-Margraten, in Limburg, have voted to appoint a Nature guardian, whose job will be to make sure Nature’s interests are considered in all the municipality’s decisions. The motion was proposed by Councillor Franklin Boon, and approved by a majority of his colleagues earlier this month.

Eijsden-Margraten, in the south of the Netherlands, is rich in natural beauty. Forests, hills and caves are all part of the rural landscape here. Little wonder, then, that the region offers fertile farming land – and attracts a lot of tourists. But with farming and tourism come controversy and damage. Some of the issues that have affected the local Nature include the extension of holiday parks, use of pesticides and mountain bike trails that cover fragile land.

Now, thanks to this pioneering decision, led by environmental law expert Jessica den Outer, Nature’s interests will be considered in all big decisions made by the Eijsden-Margraten municipality. The Nature guardian, who will represent Nature and wildlife, will be made up of multiple invested voices, including scientists, those from environmental organisations and possibly even artists.

Eijsden-Margraten follows several states in the USA and two councils in Northern Ireland in giving Nature legal rights. It’s exciting and heartening to see this shift happen in the Netherlands, and we’re looking forward to finding out which part of the world will be next!