Use + Remix

Six charts to explain rights of nature

How are countries using laws to recognise and protect the rights of nature? : Michael Joiner & James Goldie, 360info. Source: Putzer et al. 2022 CC BY 4.0 How are countries using laws to recognise and protect the rights of nature? : Michael Joiner & James Goldie, 360info. Source: Putzer et al. 2022 CC BY 4.0

Maps and charts showing the progress of laws to protect rights of nature show that countries are taking different approaches to saving ecosystems.

As courts and legislators around the world race to protect ecosystems, researchers are striving to put those efforts into context. What can countries learn from each other, and how are they solving unique legal and political obstacles?

A team of global researchers have painted this picture, building a map of the various ‘rights of nature’ laws across the globe.

The global picture shows accelerating efforts to establish rights for natural systems, with nearly 60 different laws in the works in 2020 alone.

Legislatures globally have accelerated their efforts to protect the rights of nature.

Local regulations have grown particularly quickly over the last 50 years, accounting for more than one third of all the legal protections tracked.

Although they often cover small areas, local regulations have been a popular way for communities to recognise and protect the rights of nature over the last 15 years.

But looking at different regions up close highlights some of the unique approaches countries are taking.


Several European countries are debating whether to embed rights for nature into their constitutions, giving them a permanent legal status.

Europe has made strides enacting policy to protect the rights of nature, and several countries are considering constitutional recognition of those rights.

South America

Ecuador is already there: its constitution already gives mention to the rights of nature, and its courts have referred to those rights in order to make dozens of decisions.

Colombia and Ecuador’s courts have been particularly active in recognising rights of nature.

United States

The United States is a complicated picture internally, and the protections that natural systems enjoy largely depend on which state they land in. Some north-eastern states, such as New Hampshire and Pensylvania, have implemented many local regulations in lieu of larger protections. About half of US states have no protections at all beyond what might be available federally.

Around half of the US’s 50 states have no laws protecting the rights of nature at all, but other states have used a mix of legal instruments to recognise and enforce those rights.

Despite this, efforts are slowly accelerating, with more laws introduced or debated each year now than 15 years ago.

US legislatures have slowly but surely introduced new laws to protect the rights of nature over the past 15 years.

Originally published under Creative Commons by 360info™.

Editors Note: In the story “Rights of nature” sent at: 03/01/2023 12:33.

This is a corrected repeat.

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Michael Joiner
Multimedia Editor, 360info

James Goldie
Data and Digital Storytelling Lead, 360info

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