UN Issues “Harmony With Nature” Summary Report (2016)

In August the United Nations General Assembly issued a summary report based on a UN-initiated virtual dialogue among experts in Earth jurisprudence with regards to advancing global sustainability in harmony with nature. The dialogue focused on aligning human governance systems with an Earth-centered perspective. Experts discussed developments and recommendations for doing so across eight disciplines, including: Earth-centered law; ecological economics; education; holistic science; the humanities; philosophy and ethics; the arts, media, design and architecture; and theology and spirituality.

Read the full report here – http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/71/266


Several NELC Fellows participated in the virtual dialogue. Linda Sheehan offered her expertise in Earth-centered law, while Peter Brown and Joshua Farley contributed input in the area of ecological economics. See below for their individual pieces.

Linda Sheehan – http://www.harmonywithnatureun.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/DialogueInputs/LindaSheehan.EarthLaw.pdf

Peter Brown – http://www.harmonywithnatureun.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/DialogueInputs/PeterG.Brown.EcologicalEconomics.pdf

Joshua Farley – http://www.harmonywithnatureun.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/DialogueInputs/JoshuaFarley.EcologicalEconomics.pdf

Restoring Power to Hawai’i: (Missed) Opportunities for Energy Justice on the Road to 100% Renewable Energy

In June 2015 Hawaii became the first state in the nation to formally commit to 100 percent clean, renewable power generation. A year later, the island archipelago is facing some critical choices in how to get to that goal. NELC Fellow and VLS Distinguished Energy Law Scholar for 2016, Prof. Shalanda Baker, describes these choices under the current regulatory structure and their implications for energy policy and energy justice.

Shalanda H. Baker, Assoc. Prof. of Law and Environmental Law Program Faculty Advisor at University of Hawai’i at Manoa, “Restoring Power to Hawai’i: (Missed) Opportunities for Energy Justice on the Road to 100% Renewable Energy,” Hot Topics in Environmental Law lecture at VLS, June 9, 2016

View the video here.

Linda Sheehan – “Commentary on ‘Against Ecocide: Legal Protection for Earth'”

Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 2.09.23 PMA global movement is coalescing advancing systemic change in the law through enacting nature’s rights provisions as well as through legal activism promoting international recognition of ecocide as a fifth crime against peace. Femke Wijdekop discusses the latter development in a new piece for the Great Transition Initiative. In the following commentary, Earth Law Center Executive Director and NELC Senior Fellow Linda Sheehan responds to this piece reflecting on the role of legal activism and strategies for pushing ecocentric systemic reform forward.


Linda Sheehan, “Commentary on ‘Against Ecocide: Legal Protection for Earth,” Great Transition Initiative (August 2016), http://www.greattransition.org/commentary/linda-sheehan-against-ecocide-femke-wijdekop


Commoning as a Transformative Social Paradigm

In this paper produced for the Next System Project, NELC Associate Fellow David Bollier introduces the commons as a social paradigm capable of transcending the current oppressive system. In particular, Bollier examines the commons as an alternative to the neoliberal political economy and presents a commoning vision and approach for achieving a more ecologically sustainable and humane society.



Protected: New Economy Book Chapters

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking)

New Zealand is taking bold steps to evolve its legal system by recognizing “legal personhood” status and rights for natural systems, including rivers and forests. Arising from agreements to settle treaty violations with indigenous Maori, the recognition of the Te Urewera Forest and the Whanganui River as legal entities is a growing approach (following related efforts in Ecuador and elsewhere) for shifting law towards a more ethical, eco-centric standard. 

“In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking),” The New York Times, July 13, 2016

Earth Law

NELC Fellow Linda Sheehan, Executive Director of Earth Law Center, teaches this Summer Term course at VLS

Course Description:

Climate change and other global threats are increasingly illustrating the limits of our existing environmental laws to stem degradation. This course posits that environmental declines will continue until we address a fundamental assumption underlying our legal system: that humans are separate from the natural world and may treat it as property to be exploited, rather than as a connected ecological partner. The course will critically examine the sources of this assumption and its impacts on preventing us from achieving a healthy, thriving planet. It will then describe legal, economic, and other governance systems that recognize the inherent rights of the natural world to exist, thrive, and evolve, and it will discuss how such systems can be implemented to advance lasting sustainability. Specific applications will be highlighted, debated, and practiced.​

Syllabus – Summer 2016



A Radical Alliance of Black and Green Could Save the World

VLS Energy Clinic White River Community Solar News

Vermont Public Radio recently featured the VLS Energy Clinic’s White River Community Solar project that we have been developing with our community partners Building a Local Economy (BALE) and Putting Down Roots Farm.  Putting Down Roots Farm is a local CSA business that has agreed to host the 150 kW community solar array which will be directly owned by the local participants and developed by our local solar partner Catamount Solar.  This story features a discussion of the challenges facing community solar, including the challenge of utility net metering caps and the competition for interconnection capacity with projects that are neither locally owned or solar for the local community.  Our Energy Clinic continues to work to advance true community solar and we welcome collaboration with new partners in this effort.  We can be contacted at energy clinic@vermontlaw.edu


Call for Papers, ClassCrits IX The New Corporatocracy and Election 2016

The ClassCrits Network invites paper and panel proposals for our upcoming conference, The New Corporatocracy and Election 2016, Oct. 21-22, 2016 at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Business Law Center.  We are a group of scholars, students and activists interested in critical analysis of economic inequality and the law, founded in a commitment to integrating economic justice with racial, gender, sexual, environmental justice and beyond.  We welcome papers on a range of topics related to those goals as well as specifically on this year’s theme of corporate political power.  Abstracts for proposed papers can be submitted by May 16, 2016 to classcrits@gmail.com, and for more information see https://classcrits.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/classcrits-ix-call-for-papers-and-participation/.