July 1st marked the formal start of this research project. It will explore the consequences of the recognition of rivers as legal persons in countries as different as New Zealand, India and Colombia. It involves six researchers, from the three case countries as well as from Norway and the UK, with backgrounds from the social sciences and law.
We are really excited about this project and look forward to being able to investigate in detail the strengths and weaknesses of this legal innovation that aims to address both environmental concerns and the rights of river users, including the rights of indigenous peoples. Could this point the way towards a new model for human-nature relations?
Currently, we are in the initial phase of the project, with an emphasis on internal discussions, planning, developing approaches and gathering secondary information. The in-depth fieldwork among those who live along and use the rivers, as well as with the different involved authorities, private companies, legal experts and interested organizations – which will form the backbone of the project – is the second phase, to start next year, as soon as the COVID-19 situation allows.
(Photo by Sam Henderson and Elizabeth Macpherson).