The Australian Earth Laws Alliance draws its inspiration from an emerging theory of law called Earth Jurisprudence – also known as ‘Earth Laws’ or ‘Wild Law’. Earth Jurisprudence stresses human interconnectedness and dependence with the natural world. Recognition of human interconnectedness with nature is a prerequisite for ecological sustainability and should be recognised as the foundation of our legal system. Historically, the environmental conditions of civilizations have been altered by geographical, cultural and socio-economic changes. However, contemporary industrial civilisation has altered its environment to such a degree that its own existence has been placed in jeopardy.
The current legal system is human-centred and has been shaped to promote infinite economic growth and industrial development. This orientation effectively treats the environment as a resource that belongs to human beings and can be exploited for human benefit. Environmental law and other regulatory measures play an important role in curving the excesses of this system. However, the current rate of environmental destruction demands a new approach to environmental protection.
To this end, Earth Jurisprudence seeks to catalyse a shift in law from human-centeredness to a recognition of our interconnectedness with nature. It contends quite plainly that either the human community and the natural world will go into the future as a single community, or we will both perish.
Earth Jurisprudence promotes a number of key principles including:
- the intrinsic right of nature to exist and flourish;
- the need to create governance structures that enable human societies to fit within our ecological limits (see AELA's GreenPrints program); and,
- the benefits of engaging with culturally diverse governance structures, including First Nations Peoples knowledge systems.
Earth Jurisprudence engages with a broad subject matter that includes (but is not limited to) legal theory, environmental law, economics, First Nations Peoples' epistemologies, cosmology, science, religion and environmental philosophy. Innovative and creative work needs to occur in each of these areas if we are build a truly sustainable and mutually enhancing future society.