Return to AELA’s Team

Dr Michelle Maloney

Dr Michelle Maloney

Other Affiliations


Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts (Political Science and History) and Laws (Honours) from the Australian National University and a PhD in Law from Griffith University.  She has more than 25 years experience designing and managing climate change, sustainability and environmental justice projects in Australia, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and the USA, and this includes ten years working with indigenous colleagues in Central Queensland on a range of community development, sustainability and cultural heritage projects.  Michelle met and fell in love with Earth jurisprudence and Wild Law in 2009 and since 2011 has been working to promote the understanding and practical implementation of Earth centred law, governance and ethics in Australia through her work with AELA.


As Co-Founder and National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, Michelle manages the strategic direction and governance of the organisation, including the extensive partnerships and networks that AELA has with the legal, academic and environmental advocacy communities. 

Michelle oversees programs focussed on Earth-centred law, economics, education, ethics, the arts and bio-regional governance.  Michelle also designs and manages AELA's events, including community workshops, conferences, webinars and AELA's Rights of Nature Tribunals, and coordinates the work of more than 20 fantastic multi-disciplinary professional and student volunteers around Australia.

Michelle also leads a range of community education and support initiatives carried out by AELA's Australian Centre for the Rights of Nature (ACRN).

Michelle is a lively, entertaining and informative public speaker who has spoken at more than 150 events over the past six years and is keen to keep connecting with people through her public speaking, workshops and other events.  Her publications, conference papers and public speaking events are listed below.


Michelle is committed to Earth laws education and in 2015 she taught Earth jurisprudence for a semester at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, at Barry University, Florida USA. 

Michelle created Australia's first university level course on Earth laws, which was taught at Griffith University Law School in Brisbane, in December 2016.  Michelle now teaches the subject as an annual, one week intensive at Griffith Law School. Michelle introduced Earth laws and Earth centred governance lectures and workshops into Queensland high schools in 2018, and now gives guest lectures and workshops in a number of high schools on a regular basis. 

For more information:


Michelle is passionate about researching and disseminating information about how we can create legal and governance structures to help us live within our ecological limits and nurture the living world. She has edited two books and written various articles, chapters, blogs and opinion pieces about Earth centred governance.

Current research and writing projects include:

  • leading the AELA GreenPrints team and GreenPrints Advisory Group to research and pilot new models for Earth centred, bio-regional governance, as part of AELA's 'GreenPrints' project. 
  • creating and editing the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature's new annual publication - "Rights of Nature - Global Update 2019", available in mid 2019
  • working on two new books, one on bioregional governance and a second book about ancient and emerging ecological governance, with Adjunct Associate Professor Mary Graham, University of Queensland Kombumerri First Nations Peoples.  Both books should be available in 2020.



Book Chapters and Journal Articles




  • 'The future of water,' Final Panel Discussion, Liveable Cities Conference, Adelaide, 13 August 2019
  • Rights of Nature and Legal Personhood for Nature: Perspectives from Australia and the Pacific', Presentation, Pacific Biodiversity Conference, IRD/SPREP, Noumea, New Caledonia, 24-25 June 2019
  • 'Earth laws and Bioregional Governance,' Presentation as part of the ELGA Panel "Themes in Ecological Law and Governance", Annual CANSEE Conference (Canadian Society for Ecological Economics), 24 May 2019 (via internet)
  • Rights of Nature and Earth Laws in Australia', Presentation, 10th Geneva Forum, United Nations, Geneva - Rights of Nature for Peace and Development (via zoom), 10 December 2018
  • 'The future for agri-food research, policy and activism in the Anthropocene - the role of Earth laws', Opening Panel Discussion, Agri-food XXV: Celebrating 25 Years of Australasian Agri-Food Research, University of Queensland, 5 December 2018
  • 'The Human Right to a Healthy Environment and the Rights of Nature', Presentation at 'Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change' Seminar, co-hosted by EDO Qld, Griffith University and AELA, 4 December 2018
  •  ‘Creating an Earth centred future: law, economics, ethics and education”, Keynote Presentation, Alternative Futures Symposium, University of Newcastle, 22-23 November 2018, UTS, Sydney
  • 'Bioregional Governance and Earth centred law," Presentation, Exploring our legal relationship with living world, Brisbane, 25-26 October 2018
  • 'Advocating for the Rights of Nature in Australia: The work of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance', presentation given to the 10 Year Celebration of Rights of Nature in Ecuador, hosted by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, 27 September 2018, Quito, Ecuador (via zoom)
  • 'Building an Earth centred legal system: Rights of Nature and Bioregional Governance", 23 June,  2018 Queensland Ornithological Conference, Brisbane
  • 'Responding to the Reports of the Australian Panel of Experts on Environmental Law (APEEL): Rights of Nature and Bioregional Environmental Governance', at the APEEL Conference, "Better laws for a better planet: a symposium on the future of Australia's environmental laws", University House, ANU, Canberra 28 March 2018
  • 'When objects become subjects: the global Rights of Nature movement, and what it means for Australia", Frontiers Environmental Law Conference, Hobart, February 5-6 February 2018
  • 'The failing of environmental law and why we need Rights of Nature laws", Rights of Nature Symposium, 27 October 2017, Tulane University, New Orleans, USA
  • 'GreenPrints: an approach for implementing ecological economics,' Canadian Society for Ecological Economics Conference, October 2017, Montreal
  • 'The Rights of Nature and AELA's "Exploring the Legal Status of Nature Project"', Legal Status of Rivers Symposium, AELA and CREEL/Melbourne Law School, July 2017
  • 'Threats to land and water in Australia: mega mines and environmental justice', Beyond Mining Symposium, Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 3 March 2017
  • 'Earth Jurisprudence and Responding to the Great Work', Nature in Culture Symposium, Sydney Environment Institute, 23 February 2017
  • 'Teaching Earth Jurisprudence: Building Capacity for Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving', Frontiers3, Melbourne Law School 16 February 2017
  • 'AELA's GreenPrints Program and The Role of The Arts', InterCreate Panel, Global Ecologies and Local Impacts Conference, Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney University, 23-25 November 2016
  • 'Next generation environmental law or echoes of 1984? Regulating consumption in industrialised societies", Global Ecologies and Local Impacts Conference, Sydney Environment Institute, Sydney University, 23-25 November 2016
  • 'The New Economy and our Relationship with the Natural World: An Earth Jurisprudence Approach', "Building the New Economy: enterprise, activism and social change Conference", Glebe Town Hall, Sydney 15-16 August 2016
  • 'Regulating Consumption: A Framework for Taking Collective Action', Opening presentation at AELA's "Let's Talk About Consumption" Symposium, Melbourne, 4 March 2016
  • 'Ownership Matters in the Sharing Economy', Panel Discussion for Melbourne Sustainability Festival, 18 February 2016.
  • 'Regulating Consumption: A Framework for Taking Collective Action', Opening presentation at AELAs "Let's Talk About Consumption" Symposium, Brisbane, 28 August 2015
  • ‘Australia’s Response to Climate Change: A Case Study in What Not to Do to Your Carbon Price’, Environmental and Earth Law Summit, Barry University, Florida, USA, 9 April 2015 (invited)
  • ‘Rights of Nature and Protected Areas’, Paper presented at IUCN World Parks Congress, Green Justice Panel, Sydney 17 November 2014
  • ‘The implications of Planetary Boundaries for Earth Jurisprudence and national environmental regulation’, Paper presented at the New Zealand Earth Laws Conference on Sustainability, Wellington, New Zealand, 14-17 March 2014 (invited)
  • ‘Ecological Limits, Planetary Boundaries and Earth Jurisprudence’, Paper presented at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)  Academy of Environmental Law Conference, Waikato, New Zealand 26-28 June 2013
  • ‘Using The Law To Support Community Climate Action,’ Public lecture and panel discussion at the Australian Climate Action Summit Forum, NSW Parliament House, 21 June 2013 (invited)
  • ‘Access to Environmental Justice in Queensland – News from the Trenches’, Presentation to Environmental Justice Symposium hosted by Sydney University Law School, 5 May 2013 (invited)
  • ‘Environmental Justice and the Role of Governments,’ Paper presented at Environmental Justice Symposium, co-hosted by Victorian Environment Defenders Office and Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law (CREEL), Melbourne University, Melbourne, 27 July 2012 (invited)
  • ‘Climate Justice: Gaps and Opportunities in Government Policy’, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility Conference ‘Adaptation in Action’ , Melbourne, June 2012
  • ‘Finding limits for human societies: can Earth Jurisprudence put the brakes on unsustainable consumption?’, Earth Jurisprudence: Building Theory and Practice, Griffith University, Brisbane 16-18 September 2011
  • ‘Next Generation Environmental Law or Echoes of 1984? Regulating Individuals for Environmental Outcomes’, PhD Colloquium, Griffith University, July 2011
  • ‘Limiting Consumption – Wild Law in Practice?’, ‘Keeping the Fire’ Conference, July 2010, Wollongong University
  • ‘Transforming Domestic Consumption Patterns in Urban Water Supply in South East Queensland’, joint paper with Professor Jan McDonald, International Climate Change Adaptation Conference, June 2010, Gold Coast
  • ‘Going Against the Flow: Transforming Urban Water Consumption’, joint paper with Professor Jan McDonald, Law and Society Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, December 2009, Brisbane



  • 'Rights of Nature Laws Around the World: Perspectives from Australia and the Pacific', Public Seminar, IRD/SPREP, Noumea, New Caledonia, 26 June 2019
  • Sustainability Round Table with Jane Goodall, Macquarie University Law School, 7 May 2019
  • "Earth jurisprudence and building an Earth centred society," Presentation, St. Mary's in Exile, South Brisbane, 9 October 2018
  • "Using the law for people and planet," Panel Discussion at UTS Law Students Association Conference, Ultimo, Sydney, 11 August 2018
  • "Using law and regulation to challenge consumption and planned obsolescence",  Zero Waste Forum, Winter Solstice Festival, Northey Street, 23 June 2018
  • "The work of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance", Earth Trusteeship Conference, The Hague, 22 June (via internet)
  • "A pathway to Earth centred, bio-regional governance: the GreenPrints approach", RenewFest, May 2018
  • "Sustainability and Earth Centred Governance", Presentation to staff, St. Ignatius High School, Edmund Rice Network, Townsville 16 June 2018
  • "Food systems and the 2018 Rights of Nature Tribunal", Transition Film Festival, Brisbane 23 March 2018
  • 'How can we change the world?' Evening Seminar/Panel Discussion hosted by QUT Business School, also featuring Professor Will Steffen and Dr Richard Denniss at QUT Gardens Point, 31 August 2017
  • 'Careers in Sustainability', University of Queensland, July 2017
  • ‘Earth jurisprudence and environmental law – what’s in it for you?’ - Public lecture for Environmental Law Students Society, Barry University, Florida, 30 March 2015
  • ‘The Precautionary Principle in theory and practice’ - Public lecture, Miami Dade University, 20 March 2015
  • ‘Earth jurisprudence and the Precautionary Principle’ - Workshop delivered to Earth Ethics Institute, Miami Dade College, 20 March 2015
  • 'Implementing Earth jurisprudence: The Work of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance', Guest lecture, California Institute for Integral Studies, San Francisco, 3 March 2015
  • 'Wild Law and Earth jurisprudence', Sustainable Engineers, June 2012
  •  ‘Wild Law – An Introduction’ - Public Seminar at Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management, Brisbane, July 2011



  • 'One Ocean Symposium: Exploring Rights of Nature and Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction', New York, Saturday 24 August 2019
  • 'Earth Laws: Rights of Nature and bioregional governance', co-hosted by TreeSisters, Sunshine Coast University, 27 April 2019
  • 'Developing a GreenPrint - bioregional governance for East Gippsland", 2 Day Workshop, 12-13 April 2019
  • "Rights of Nature and Bioregional Governance" - East Gippsland, Victoria, 29 July 2018
  • "GreenPrints: A pathway to Earth centred, bio-regional governance", RenewFest, 17th May 2018
  • "Sustainability and Earth centred governance,"  St Laurence's College, Brisbane, 10th May 2018
  • 'Earth laws and governance', Brisbane, EcoCentre, June 2017
  • 'Exploring Earth Laws, Earth Democracy and the Rights of Nature', One day workshop, Orbost, Victoria, 6th March 2016
  • ‘Responding to Thomas Berry’s Great Work: The role of lawyers and the work of AELA’ – Workshop presentation, Thomas Berry Colloquium, Edmund Rice Centre Amberley and Centre for Ecology and Spirituality, Glenburn, 8 November 2014 (invited)
  • ‘Should Rivers Have Legal Rights?’ Public seminar with Environmental Justice Victoria and RMIT, 6 November 2014
  • ‘An Introduction to Wild Law and Rights of Nature’ – Public lecture, EcoCentre Sustainability Series, Griffith University, Brisbane, 6 June 2013 (invited)
  • ‘Introduction to Wild Law, Earth Jurisprudence and Rights of Nature – Paper presented at Australian Earth Laws Alliance Workshop, Sydney 3 May 2013
  • ‘Earth Jurisprudence and Rights of Nature’ - Public Lecture, Perth 6 February 2013
  • ‘New Trends in Environmental Law – Rights of Nature and Legal Personhood for Ecosystems’, Public Lecture hosted by Northern Territory Environmental Defender’s Office, 5 December 2012
  • ‘Living Within Our Ecological Limits: the Role of Law and Governance’ - Paper presented at Australian Earth Laws Alliance Workshop, Adelaide, 30 November 2012
  • ‘Earth Governance, Ecological Limits and the Role of Law’ – Paper presented at AELA Workshop, Melbourne, 17 August 2012





  • RONA2020 - a national network of creative events, culminating in art exhibitions and performances in Brisbane in September 2020.  Program available soon please visit our Earth Arts website for all the updates.
  • RONA18 - Rights of Nature Australia 2018 - a national network of creative events, including a National Exhibition at the Springhill Reservoirs 22-29 October, regional exhibitions and arts responses
  • Earth Arts Creatives Retreat - Chenrezig Institute, Sunshine Coast, 15-18 June 2018
  • RONA16 - Rights of Nature Australia 2016 - a national network of creative events, including "Plenty", a national exhibition at the Brisbane Powerhouse; regional exhibitions and arts responses and an Artist in Residence program
  • 2014 - Bundanon Trust ‘Siteworks’, September – Co-organiser of Earth Leaders Lab and Panel Speaker at SiteWorks
  • 2013 - Wild Law Art Exhibition ‘Re-Orientation’ – 25 September to 2 October - in partnership with Associate Professor Marian Drew, Griffith College of Art.
  • 2012 - Guest speaker and participant, “Wild Law Arts Incubator”, organised by De Quincy & Co, Sydney