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Burns H Weston and David Bollier
Despite many noble efforts to champion the right to a clean and healthy environment and related regulation, the official recognition and jurisdictional reach of this right is highly limited. It does not matter if it is understood as an entitlement derived from other substantive rights, as a substantive right autonomous unto itself, or as a cluster of procedural entitlements. Our highly decentralized and far too voluntarist international legal order is far more concerned with privileging commercial imperatives than in protecting human rights and environmental values. However, we may be approaching a ‘Grotian Moment’ that presents an unusual opening for change. A variety of civil resistance movements, new sorts of Internet-based collaboration and governance, and dissenting schools of thought in economics, environmental stewardship and human rights, are gaining both credibility and adherents – locally, nationally, regionally, globally, and points in between. This convergence points to a new paradigm of law, economics, and governance that could provide a practical new way to reframe the human right to environment as the human right to commons- and rights-based ecological governance – what we call ‘Green Governance.’ Unlike the right to environment now practiced – theoretically appealing but troublingly indeterminate operationally – the human right to Green Governance would be anchored in a cognizably well-defined, rich history of both substantive and procedural justice. As we explain, Green Governance can provide a powerful means for challenging the State/Market's structural limitations by drawing upon the power of Human Rights, Vernacular Law, and Self-Organized Governance as a complement or substitute for State-based governance. A human right to Green Governance could help protect the creations of nature and related societal institutions that we inherit jointly and freely from our forebears, hold in trust for future generations and seek to manage democratically in accordance with human rights principles. To advance this vision, we offer a Universal Covenant Affirming a Human Right to Commons- and Rights-based Governance of Earth's Natural Wealth and Resources, a declaration ready for immediate adoption by and for all levels of concerned society worldwide.