The Rights of Nature concept not only breaks with the anthropocentrism of existing (environmental) law; it also recognizes that nature has private interests, in addition to being of public interest. That is, whereas in classic sustainability thinking, the use of certain resources is allowed as long as public interests are not systematically/systemically harmed, rights of nature facilitate the protection of nature before planetary boundaries are transgressed. This recognition of nature as having private interests enables the framing of disagreements around ‘nature’ as matters of corrective justice, which renders the application of private legal doctrines more easily conceivable and arguably even necessary.
The contributions to this Symposium Collection showcase the viability of the intersection of private law and rights of nature. Firstly, it is necessary to research how existing private law will influence the effectiveness of rights of nature. Such an exercise is undertaken by Björn Hoops, who carefully assesses what rights for the German Black Forest would mean in terms of German constitutional property law. The mirror image of this approach is to explore what impact Rights of Nature will have on private law. Such an approach is taken by Alex Putzer and co-authors in their article on the transformation of land-ownership regimes after the introduction of Rights of Nature in Ecuador and Uganda. A third line of scholarship assesses the significance of Rights of Nature for private law theory: Visa Kurki proposes a new concept of legal personhood, prompting us to think through the meaning of statements like ‘a river is a legal person’.