CELDF Tour – Exploring Community and Nature’s Rights

AELA is pleased to announce that we are hosting a series of seminars and workshops in late September and early October 2013, which explore different approaches to protecting the rights of local communities and the Rights of Nature.  The workshops will feature Thomas Linzey and Mari Margil from the USA’s Community Environmental Legal Defence Fund (CELDF).  The workshops will also feature Australian lawyers and activists, including campaigners from the Lock the Gate Alliance and other groups.

AELA has organized the workshop series to stimulate discussion and debate about the potential of using Rights of Nature legal and organizing frameworks in Australia.

Please visit our Events Homepage or scroll down to the bottom of this page, for further details about the workshops and public lectures in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia


CELDF is a US based non-profit public interest law firm and grassroots organizing organization. It has assisted the first municipalities in the US to ban fracking and other hydrocarbon extraction, and put in place new laws which establish a right to a sustainable energy future.  These laws also establish the rights of nature, including the rights of aquifers and other water ecosystems, placing the highest societal value on these natural systems.  With these laws, for the first time residents and local governments possess the authority to defend the rights of water and other ecosystems against activities, such as fracking, that will interfere with the ability of those ecosystems to exist and thrive.

For more information about CELDF:

  • Please visit their website
  • Click here for a short video about CELDF’s film called ‘We The People 2.0’, about grassroots organizing and community partners.

CELDF’s founders decided that they could not protect the environment using existing laws, as these laws merely permit destruction of the natural world.  Instead of helping clients try to fight one legal battle at a time, which is often the approach taken by public interest environmental law groups, CELDF instead began working with communities to help them create their own rights-based local legislation.  This organising strategy, and the resulting locally made legislation, enables communities to create a vision of the future they want, and to stop the developments they don’t want, in order to protect their human and natural communities.

CELDF has used a rights-based organizing strategy to become the principal advisor to grassroots groups and municipal governments in the U.S. seeking to transition from merely regulating corporate harms to stopping those harms by building a movement for structural change. They have assisted over 150 communities across the U.S. to draft and adopt first-in-the-nation local laws banning corporations from water privatization, factory farming, sewage sludging of farmland, and fracking. These local laws, or ordinances, ban certain threats while addressing the key legal doctrines – such as corporate constitutional “rights” and pre-emption – which protect the existing structure and serve as barriers to sustainability. CELDF has assisted over three dozen communities – the nation’s first – to draft and adopt laws nullifying corporate rights at the municipal level.

CELDF’s organizing involves partnering closely with grassroots groups and municipal officials; conducting public education; developing outreach materials; holding trainings and Democracy Schools; and the provision of technical assistance to communities with legal research and legislative drafting.

We hope you can join us to hear more about CELDF’s work and to join the discussions about community campaigning and Rights of Nature legislation.

Please click on the links below for information about each event, and for details about how to book your place: