The Rights of Wetlands in support of a safe climate and effective wetland restoration – The charter model

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William R Moomaw

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Wetlands are an integral component of the global ecosystem connecting through gas exchange with the atmosphere. They remove and keep large quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and respire both carbon dioxide and methane. Wetlands support major biological diversity including migratory birds linking local wetlands to global biodiversity. As has been demonstrated by practices of indigenous peoples, providing rights to wetlands is a successful path for maintaining their important climate and biodiversity functions. The accelerating rate of climate change from feedback loops and the loss of biodiversity requires new approaches to wetland protection. The Universal Declaration that wetlands have a fundamental right to exist and be restored builds upon previous declarations based upon the charter model. We will examine two examples, the World Charter for Nature (WCN) 1982 and the World Charter (WC) 1999, and demonstrate how they contribute to developing a declaration of the rights of wetlands. WCN contains strong statements on the value of Nature, and defines five principles for conserving it. The Earth Charter is a civil society initiative proposed by Maurice Strong and Michael Gorbachev in 1987, and endorsed by UNESCO and many societal groups including indigenous peoples and some representatives from government including mayors and other officials. It provides a template for recent proposals like the Green New Deal in the United States and the Green Deal in Europe. Like those efforts, at creates a global order that links environmental conservation with socio-economic issues. Neither charter explicitly grants rights to Nature. This analysis seeks to determine how these two charters can contribute to a useful structure for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program