Blue Mountains City Council has become the first government entity in Australia to integrate Rights of Nature (RON) principles into its operations and practices, boosting its commitment to becoming a Sustainable City.
RON is a rapidly growing international movement that aims to ensure a safe and healthy future for our planet by encouraging humanity to reorient its relationship with nature, from an essentially exploitative one to one that recognises the importance of all life on earth.
“I’m incredibly proud that we are the first Council, and government entity, in Australia to embrace this exciting movement,” Mayor Mark Greenhill, said.
“Integrating Rights of Nature into our operations is a highly significant step on our path to becoming a Sustainable City,” he said.
“At a time when we are facing increasing risks and uncertainty from multiple natural disasters, including bushfires, floods, pandemics and species extinction, it’s crucial that mankind looks at nature in an entirely different way and takes action accordingly.
“By becoming part of this critical initiative, we are shifting our lens from seeing nature only from the human point of view, to adopting a more holistic approach where we acknowledge that everything living thing plays a role.”
He said the incorporation of RON principles into Council’s operations, planning and advocacy programs aligns with its existing commitments to Planetary Health that recognises that human health and planet health are inextricably linked.
“By acknowledging RON as a guiding principle in its overarching high level strategic planning documents, Council is making a powerful statement about its intent to be a best practice, environmentally responsible organisation in all aspects of its operations and decision making.”
Blue Mountains Chief Executive Officer Dr Rosemary Dillon said: “We recognise that human civilisation depends on flourishing natural systems, and the wise stewardship of natural resources. We recognise that the natural world is just as entitled to exist and evolve as humanity. We will work to make our policies and operations reflect this, recognising that this will be challenging at times. I encourage other Councils, and levels of government, to do the same.”
“The City of Blue Mountains embraces its responsibility to ensure environmental, social and economic sustainability at a local level, and to play an important leadership role in contributing to the health of the planet overall.”
Council will also engage its staff and the wider community to promote the significance of RON.
“It will work with the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA) to create local economic, arts and social projects that support RON principles and to develop practical implementations of RON at Council and in the community,” Ms Dillon said.
The National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, Dr Michelle Maloney, described the move as an exciting step forward for public policy in Australia.
“For the first time, we’re seeing a government entity seriously consider how to shift from the western approach of treating nature as just a resource or object to be managed solely for human purposes, towards really seeing nature as a living community, with its own rights to exist, thrive and regenerate,” she said.