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LAUNCH: The Living Law Futures Initiative

Building Tomorrow's Living Law Today

Thousands of people are gathering today all across the world for the #GeneralStrike inspired by the #FridaysForFuture movement. In doing so, they are standing up against vested interests for #climatejustice, for all our futures and for our rights of inter-generational equity as guaranteed by international law. We stand in solidarity with these young leaders across the world today who have shown the foresight and wisdom to stand up for our environmental rights and for our planet. But we must be clear: while recognising the importance of the voice of the global youth, the responsibilities of making these transitions must not be allowed to rest on their shoulders alone.

That is why we are today launching the Living Law Futures initiative- a not-for-profit legal education and out-reach initiative which will aim in the coming years to support young people across Scotland by equipping them with the tools to understand their environmental rights and Nature's rights. In short, their opportunities to become Earth trustees and be part of the movement from unsustainable exploitation to stewardship.

While Law alone cannot address the inter-locking crises that our planet faces, when we look to history and past movements we learn the pivotal and catalyst role it can play in guiding this re-alignment - here, to just and equitable societies within Planetary Boundaries and Harmony with Nature. This change is already happening.

We have big aims and ambitions for this new programme to show how leadership in law is possible and we will deliver on them.

In our first year we plan to kick-start this initiative by:-

  • Holding a series of #LitigationCamps - we want to give 100 young people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn from top legal experts about their environmental rights and how they can engage in key environmental decision-making processes that affect them and their communities and how they can hold our political leaders to account using the law;

  • Launch a legal campaign for an Environmental Ombudsperson for Scotland - there are great similarities that exist between the human rights movement and environmental rights movement. We believe that these movements need to work with each other and will be strengthened as a result. When we talk to leaders from the human rights movement, we understand and learn the educational and awareness change curve that has happened there over the last ten-to-twenty years as those rights have been mainstreamed and embedded in every-day societies. This is precisely the point that the environmental movement is at today. While litigation is important, our planet cannot wait for litigation outcomes alone. We urgently need to embed a legal culture of "first-time-right" decision-making. To this end, we believe that Scotland needs a new organisation to help it make this journey. We will, therefore, launch a concept paper shortly which we will use to engage with decision-makers and explain the reasons behind this proposal and the advantages it has to fill the environmental governance gap that exists (regardless of Brexit).

  • Promote legal changes to strategic areas of law - in line with our recent submission to the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law's next congress, this year we will also bring forward a series of engagement efforts that look at how broader areas of law need to be addressed to assist the ecological transitions; for example, new laws which address corporate advertising and green-washing; more explicit protections for environmental rights defenders under domestic law (reflecting international law obligations and guarantees); and promoting discussion about the need for new rules of ethics for solicitors who act for extractive and carbon-intensive industries.

Commenting on today's launch, Susan Shaw, founder of Living Law said:-

"Just ten years ago, environmental law was viewed as a niche area of practice. Indeed, I recall clearly being told that it was not possible to be an environmental lawyer! Today the question is instead what kind of environmental lawyer are you? What area of environmental law do you specialise in? At the global level, the move towards Earth Jurisprudence is already advancing at pace - and is now the next step. The change is happening already and at scale."

"Living Law is committed to translating our unique and privileged knowledge gained from engagement with our international networks and partners back to the UK (and Scotland, in particular) to support the next generation. So, it's extremely exciting to be launching this new initiative today."

"Ecological processes are intrinsically linked - there is no planet climate and planet biodiversity. That is why we are striking today for the societies of tomorrow that will live in #HarmonyWithNature, within all Planetary Boundaries and for the moves we need towards Earth Jurisprudence. We are striking for all life and for all rights."

Commenting on the global climate strikes, Ana Cepeda - Living Law's intern specialising in environmental rights and governance said:-

"According to the recent IPBES Report, we now know that 1,000,000 million animal and plant species are in danger of extinction. Our current actions are not sufficient to stem the rapid decline in biodiversity and live in harmony with our natural world. Considering the connection and interaction of ecosystems, Climate Change requires to be tackled with all possible transformative measures from different factors causing serious stress to the Earth-system."

"Today we urge our political leaders to adopt progressive conservation policies not just to comply with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (and successors) and NDCs, but to act with decisiveness and purpose to halt the destruction of our biosphere. Nature-based solutions to the climate crisis are a vital component of this and now need to come to the fore. And we need holistic legal responses which are embedded in ambitious and far-reaching laws."

"Public Authorities must implement changes across multiple areas of decision-making to uphold our environmental rights - from forestry, marine ecosystems, freshwater policy, and energy, to name a few, with a holistic and integrated approach considering all relevant stakeholders who can work jointly for the outcomes needed. It is vital that we also adopt key changes in our daily conduct, starting from regular habits that also will contribute to realising a balance with Nature. The new Living Law Futures initiative is an exciting step to help build awareness of all our rights so that people and planet are central to decision-making and I am privileged to be part of it."

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