“NZ legislation gives river legal status as a “person” by Gavin MacFadyen.

The article, “NZ legislation gives river legal status as a “person” by Gavin MacFadyen, speaks about a new law being passed, and the implications it has on future legal cases regarding the environment. New Zealand passed a law that gives human status to the Whanganui river- New Zealand’s third largest river, at the behest of the local Maori tribe. The governments intention was to correct previous wrongs committed by them towards the indigenous peoples. India soon followed suit as well, granting the Ganges river and the Yamuna the status of a legal person.  Their ruling also provided a new front on which legal environmental problems may be waged. These rivers now have the legal position of standing, by virtue of their person status. They no longer have to jump through legal hoops to be able to bring a lawsuit. Now that these natural entities have standing,  it changes the way environmental battles will be fought  and both sides will view the natural world through a different lens. If governments or firms would be looking to take advantage of any natural entities, they may find it to be more challenging now than it was in the past. What do you guys think about rivers being labeled as humans?

NZ legislation gives river legal status as a “person”

7 thoughts on ““NZ legislation gives river legal status as a “person” by Gavin MacFadyen.”

  1. Rivers being labeled as humans will not change the fact pollution will still occur. The only Solution is for big company like Nike which as a large company on India to argue that river as been polluted by the material used to make shoes and clothes to came with a solution.

  2. In my opinion, the natural environment should have protection laws as it is essential for our ecosystem. However, I do not believe that labeling a river as a “living person” will be an appropriate measure to preserve nature from harm such as pollution. Although it is true that rivers are living organisms, this does not give them the same rights as animals. To be more specific, humans have rights because we are autonomous and we understand morals. We differ from every other organism because we are able to feel and think reasonably, which cannot be compared to rivers. This concept is interesting but I would only imagine many ethical arguments regarding other living organisms that will arise.

  3. In my opinion, this change in status for the rivers puts this environment preservation into perspective. It relates a little to my article Satellites reveal bird habitat loss in California about the need to protect our water supply and change how we treat this resource. The fact that New Zealand gave human status to the river shows you how serious they truly are about protecting the environment and helping the landscape and protecting the indigenous people. What I would want to understand is why did they choose to call the river a human? How come didn’t add stricter preservation laws so that nothing happens to it?

  4. Very interesting article. I understand the importance of keeping our environment clean and would be an advocate for any law that strives to do just that. Except in this case, legally acknowledging a river as a human is extreme. One section of the article states that harming these rivers (which are deemed as people) and harming another human would have the same consequences. This part in particular is what I don’t agree with. Humans and rivers are undeniably different in many ways relating to their consciousness and morality.
    I believe that stricter legislation would bring about more support rather than going to extremes as this NZ law did.

  5. In my opinion I feel like its cool that rivers are label as humans just like streets are label as humans or after famous people, celebrities. Maybe these rivers would be more recognize more by having human names.

  6. Every habitat belong to a group of organism and should not be polluted be it human and non human. They all need a pollute free environment.

  7. I worked for a summer at the Chicago Department of Water where I learned a lot about how complicated and contentious water policy is in the United States. It’s arguably the most important natural resource we have. I think this designation in New Zealand is fascinating because it takes the concept of “personhood” and expands it to something non-human. There is actually a precedent for this in the USA — though, not one I agree with — which says that corporations are, in essence, people and have rights therefore under the US constitution. It makes me wonder if something like this could be done in our country.

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