Rights of Nature


Rights of Nature

The Rights of Nature Workshop at the 2020 NDEL Conference will introduce participants to the concept and application of rights of nature law and policy by subnational actors in the United States and abroad. Mari Margil, the Executive Director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (CDER), will discuss the how rights of nature work is at the cutting edge of environmental law in the United States and abroad. Kamealoha Smith, Program Administrator for the Hanalei River Heritage Foundation, will share his experience as an indigenous community organizer and educator around Aloha Alna rights of nature work in Hawaii. Addison Luck, current senior at Yale College, will contribute his research on rights of nature law and policy across the United States. The workshop will feature time for discussion with the speakers and amongst participants.

Mari Margil

Mari Margil is the Executive Director of the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (CDER). Prior to launching CDER, she led the International Center for the Rights of Nature at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which assisted the first places in the world to secure the Rights of Nature in law, including in the U.S. and Ecuador. Today, she is working in Australia, Sweden, Philippines, Nepal, Ecuador, and elsewhere, as well as with indigenous peoples and tribal nations, to advance Rights of Nature legal and policy frameworks. Mari received her Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and is a co-author of The Bottom Line or Public Health (Oxford University Press) and Exploring Wild Law: The Philosophy of Earth Jurisprudence (Wakefield Press).

Kamealoha Smith

Kamealoha Smith is the current Program Administrator for the Hanalei River Heritage Foundation (HRHF) based at the Hanalei river mouth in Hawaii. He is a speaker of Hawaiian language, and uses his language and cultural skills to teach traditional knowledge and regularly creates educational materials for area outreach programs, community/visitor programs, and local public schools. As a community organizer and advocate, Kamealoha has been working with the Native Hawaiian Community through HRHF to re-establish traditional knowledge natural and cultural resource management and environmental stewardship practices as part of Aloha Alna rights of nature work in Hawaii. Prior to heading the HRHF, he was a Charter School Educator in Papahana Kaiapuni (Hawaiian Immersion Programs) and has authored several children’s book based on the Hawaiian concept, Ahupuaa, place-based education. He has a Masters Degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Japanese Language & Literature and is a graduate of Ka Hoi Wai Indigenous Teachers Program in Waimea, Hawaii Island. He is currently pursuing his doctorate at the World Indigenous Nations University in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Addison Luck

Addison Luck is a senior majoring in Environmental Studies (B.A.) and History (B.A.). At Yale, Addison played varsity soccer freshman and sophomore years before studying abroad in New Zealand his junior year. Addison is very interested in environmental law and specifically the “Rights of Nature movement”, and hopes to continue his studies in law school in the near future. Addison is a current intern for the Earth Law Center and is preparing a year-long postgraduate fellowship project with them. Addison also loves to spend time outside with his friends, with his favorite activities being surfing, skiing, and kayaking.