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Dr Erin O'Donnell - Reshaping the human relationship with water: what happens when a river becomes a person?

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Dr Erin O'Donnell - Reshaping the human relationship with water: what happens when a river becomes a person?

Globally, the status of rivers in law is changing rapidly, as rivers themselves are beginning to receive legal rights. This growing transnational movement accelerated in 2017 with the recognition of rivers in Aotearoa New Zealand, Colombia and India as legal persons. In Aotearoa New Zealand, this recognition was a way to incorporate the Māori cosmology into settler state law. In Colombia and India, the new status of the river was the result of deep judicial concern for both the health of the river and the people who live along and depend upon it. For the Río Atrato in Colombia, becoming the subject of rights was a way for the court to protect the biocultural values, and the relationship between the river and the people. This connection between the health of the river and the health of people has been central to the ongoing recognition of rivers and lakes as rights holders, legal and living persons in India, Colombia, Bangladesh, Australia, the USA, and Mexico. However, legal personhood does not necessarily result in improved environmental outcomes. In Aotearoa, Māori describe the process as one of ‘generational change’. In India and the USA, the backlash against riverine rights has been immediate and severe, sometimes fracturing communities that were otherwise united by their dependence on healthy waterways. Legal rights for rivers can be a potentially powerful tool in reshaping the human relationship with rivers, but it comes with significant risks.

    Date de réalisation : 21 Janvier 2021
    Durée du programme : 21 min
    Classification Dewey : Sociologie et anthropologie
    Catégorie : Conférences
    Niveau : Tous publics / hors niveau
    Disciplines : Sciences de la société
    Collections : Managing riverscapes and flow regimes for biocultural diversity
    ficheLom : Voir la fiche LOM
    Langue : Anglais
    Mots-clés : river, environmental health
    Conditions d’utilisation / Copyright : LE STUDIUM


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