Wednesday, November 13 • 4:15pm - 5:30pm
Personhood rights for water bodies: A fad or path to Sustainable Development Goals? (75 min) / Droits d'identité individuelle pour les cours d'eau : un engouement ou une voie vers les objectifs en matière de développement durable?

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Panel Organized by: Nancy Goucher and Tatjana Milojevic | University of Waterloo / Université de Waterloo

The Strategic Development Goal (SDG) 6 calls for "availability and sustainable water management for all". Addressing this challenge requires cooperation from multiple societal sectors across various scales, from local communities to businesses to governments. The legal system transcends all of these sectors and can influence how humans perceive their responsibility towards the management of natural resources. An emerging trend around the world has been the recognition of natural elements, such as water bodies, as legal persons. The granting of personhood to natural resources has implications for how negative impacts on these resources can be redressed.

This panel examines the extent to which legal personhood can function as a tool to enhance protection of water bodies around the world and help in achieving the SDG 6 goal. The discussion will draw on case studies of countries that have already granted specific rivers within their jurisdiction legal status (e.g. New Zealand, Colombia, and India). The panel will examine the lessons from these examples and their applicability protecting water bodies in North America, such as the case of Lake Erie, which faces numerous environmental issues including toxic and nuisance algal blooms, hypoxia, invasive species, etc.

The panel will also discuss degree to which the granting of such rights to water bodies could provide a window of opportunity to strengthen the water science agenda in Canada. We know that the constitutional recognition of environmental rights can promote cross-cutting changes to the legal system, but could this impact the development and implementation of scientific knowledge? The panelists will share their perspectives in terms of how far they think these legal actions will go in remediating problems such as curtailing ongoing pollution or launching of restoration programs to return degraded systems to health

avatar for Anastasia Lintner

Anastasia Lintner

Special Projects Counsel, Healthy Great Lakes, Canadian Environmental Law Association
Appointed as Special Projects Counsel in December 2016, Dr. Lintner holds a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics from the University of Guelph and an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School. Dr. Lintner is Principal of the recently established enterprise focusing on sustainability... Read More →
avatar for Peter Wood

Peter Wood

National Campaign Manager, Environmental Rights, David Suzuki Foundation
Peter has worked internationally and within Canada on a variety of issues at the nexus of environmental and human rights for more than 15 years, including for organizations such as West Coast Environmental Law, Global Witness, and the UN. He is currently the manager of the David Suzuki... Read More →
avatar for Lynda M Collins

Lynda M Collins

Professor, Centre for Environmental Law & Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Lynda M. Collins is a Professor in the Centre for Environmental Law & Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa Faculty Law. Professor Collins is an expert in toxic torts and environmental human rights at the domestic and international levels. She served as co-Chair of the... Read More →

Wednesday November 13, 2019 4:15pm - 5:30pm
Room 2