Generation 2030

Trend M (Rising Rights of Nature)

Rising Rights of Nature

New research is helping us understand the complexities of the natural world, and the social and emotional capabilities of animals. As a result, people are beginning to see plants, animals, and geographic features as entities with agency and rights. While many cultures have operated with this worldview for centuries, most laws, policies and societal attitudes frame the natural world as objects to be owned and managed.

Empathizing with and interacting with nature in news ways are being enabled by technologies. Tree, a virtual reality project that was showcased at Sundance, enables people to experience what it is like to be seedling growing into a tree in the rainforest. Community lobbying efforts have also had an impact, like in New Zealand, where a Maori tribe successfully fought for a local river to be granted the same legal rights as a person.

Possible Implications:

  • Natural landmarks and features in Canada could become protected from human intervention in new and different ways. This could impact many sectors, particularly natural resource extraction, transportation, and tourism.

  • Canadian kids could grow up with a different relationship to natural elements and systems, if nature is given different rights and roles within our society.

  • More energy and focus might be put into environmental protection and remediation, as people become more aware of and empathetic towards natural elements.


How new is this trend?

This is just developing, but change happens fast. If you pay attention to the media, you may see stories about this now.



What's driving these trends?

Drivers are forces that create change. These can be things like shifting populations and demographics of an area, or cultural movements and stories that we rely on to shape how we believe. Drivers are often the “causes” behind the trends and signals we observe through our scan.



Deformalization is the transition from formal structures, processes, and institutions, to informal ones. Deformalization is enabled in many cases by technology and is occurring as people question traditional views and ways of doing things.


Acknowledgement of Interconnectedness

As our world becomes increasingly complex and global, we have become more aware of the ways in which humans are interconnected with each other, plants, animals, and other elements of the natural world. This awareness is driving change in policy, societal values, and behaviours.