Major Boost for ‘The Rights of Rivers’ in the UK
The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is a fantastic organisation that help the voice of ordinary people and communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment. They were a recipient of multi-year funding from ERF.
Part of the funding was to enable ELF to work on the Rights of Rivers. ELF have manged to secure the assistance of an international lawyer – Monica Feria-Tinta. Monica brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, having played a crucial role in the groundbreaking rights of nature case in Ecuador that saved Los Cedros, a biodiverse hotspot, from detrimental mining activities. The case was a historic moment for nature’s rights as Ecuador’s highest court ruled that the plans for copper and gold mining in Los Cedros, a protected cloud forest, violated the constitutionally recognized rights of nature. Consequently, the mining concessions were rescinded, safeguarding an array of endangered flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth. This victory highlights the power of using the rights of nature approach to conservation.
Amongst many other accolades, Monia was featured in The Lawyer Hot 100 2020 as amongst “the most daring, innovative and creative lawyers” in the United Kingdom and has been shortlisted for the Chambers and Partners UK Bar Awards 2023 (Environment Junior of the Year).
Monia has agreed to assist ELF and Love Our Ouse (LOO) in drafting the Ouse Charter, marking a significant step in the advancement of environmental law in the UK. In February 2023, the Lewes council passed a historic motion which recognised the growing global movement of rights of nature and agreed that within a two year time frame the Council would look to endorse a Rights of River Charter for River Ouse. This motion marks the beginning of developing the Rights of River Ouse Charter to secure the river’s health and right to be pollution-free, and Monica will be instrumental in its creation.
The Charter aims to redefine our relationship with the river, enshrining its rights and promoting a sustainable river system. Monica’s work in drafting this charter, the first of its kind in England, will truly break new ground. With her advice on its operationalisation, we are hopeful of creating a successful model for other rivers in the country.
ELF were also able to hire a brilliant new paralegal, Tanvi Sengupta, who has already made good progress of catching up with current cases.