Earth Rights Conference Sigtuna, Sweden April 21-22, 2017
Earth Rights Conference Sigtuna April 21-22, 2017
Earth Rights Conference Sigtuna April 21-22, 2017


What idea is powerful enough to heal the relationship between humans and nature?

This conference will be a space for dialogue and co-creation about the idea that nature, not just humans, have rights. In a time of accelerating socio-ecological challenges, Earth rights is the focus of interest at different scales, from local communities to UN bodies. It is an ancient idea, present in indigenous cultures all around the world. Can Earth rights be the foundation of a new culture of respect and harmony between people and planet?

Come to Sweden’s oldest town, Sigtuna, in April and investigate.

Read more about Earth Rights

”Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.”

from the Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth


April 21-22, 2017


Manfred Björkquists allé 4
193 31 Sigtuna

Welcome to the Sigtuna Foundation

A 100 years ago the Sigtuna Foundation was built with the aim to inspire human thought and reflection. Society has changed in many ways since then, but the ambition is still the same: to offer an open space for people with different backgrounds, traditions and viewpoints to meet, interact and learn from one another in atmosphere of mutual respect. Add to that fantastic food, lovely rooms and beautiful atmosphere, and a better place for discussing the relationship between humans and nature is hard to find. Visit Sigtuna Foundation




Whole conference, two days including food and lodging – 1450 SEK  (fully booked)

Day participation including lunch and coffee – 450 SEK/day (friday dinner optional) REGISTER HERE
(A student/low income discount is available on the day tickets, please contact us if you need it).

Last registration date is April 7. For questions regarding registration and booking, please contact


FRIDAY April 21

9.30 Coffee and registration

10.00 Welcome and introduction

Nature´s rights in law – processes and practice

Rights of Nature – Mari Margil, CELDF
At a time of unprecedented species extinction, ecosystem collapse, and climate change, there is a growing understanding that conventional environmental legal frameworks are inadequate to protect nature. A global movement is growing to advance fundamental change in the relationship between humankind and the natural world, by eliminating the key barriers to environmental protection and sustainability, and placing the highest legal protections on nature through the recognition of rights.

The emergence of ecocide law to protect our common home – Femke Wijdekop, End Ecocide on Earth
Ecocide law aims to make the worst kind of violence against nature an international crime. It recognizes that our planetary boundaries are the ‘ultimate court of appeal’ and that we need to harmonize our human laws with nature’s laws. At this moment, our human laws are completely out of sync with nature’s laws and at the root of this lies the misperception that humans own nature and are separate from it.

Reflections from conference participants and panel


Outdoor exercise: What would a society that acknowledges Earth Rights look like? 

Parallell workshops

Conclusion and check-out


Evening programme


from 7.00 BREAKFAST

8.30 Ceremony to celebrate International Day of Mother Earth

The worldview reflected in Rights of Nature

Earth Jurisprudence: a guide to a healthy Earth community – Cormac Cullinan
The Rights of Nature is not just a new set of laws. It is grounded in a comprehensive philosophy of law called Earth Jurisprudence. Today´s governance systems are designed to perpetuate human domination of Nature. Earth Jurisprudence, on the contrary, seeks to foster mutually beneficial relationships between humans and the other members of the Earth community. This is not only crucial to end the ongoing destruction of Nature, but also have deep existential and spiritual implications for human self-understanding.

Sumak Kawsay – A way of living in harmony within communities and with nature – Patricia Gualinga, Sarayaku
Sumak Kawsay is a cosmovision fundamental for indigenous cultures for thousands of years, that recently has influenced social movements. Ideas derived from this way of relating to life have been incorporated into Ecuadorean and Bolivian legal frameworks. Sumak Kawsay recognizes a need of cooperation for collective wellbeing, social equality and co-existence with our living, breathing environment. It describes a form of development where social, cultural, environmental and economic issues work together in balance, not separately nor hierarchically. Sarayaku has become recognized worldwide for their resistance against oil extraction in their ancestral territory as they have repeatedly defended their territory in international courts – and won!

Parallell workshops


Open space: How can we work with Earth Rights in the transition to sustainability? 

Conclusion, reflection and integration

16.00 Conference ends.


Advancing the Rights of Nature

This workshop with Mari Margil from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) will provide a practical examination of the Rights of Nature – what it is; why and how it is advancing around the world; and strategies for advancing it at the local and national level in Sweden and other countries. This will include discussion on how existing environmental laws legalize the use and exploitation of nature, and how these frameworks are unable to protect nature.

Art for the Rights of Nature

To open up for the solidarity with all living beings, we need to open to a sensory, creative exploration of ourselves and the world. A mindful, intuitive workshop, where we explore our inner sense of music and rhythm, and practise interbeing. How can we create sounds, noise and gestures into a co-creative piece? How can we listen to our true selves and to the group at the same time? An adventure beyond words with Peder Karlsson and Annika Lykta.

The International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature

Cormac Cullinan discusses how the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature is using the International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature to pioneer and experiment with alternative international and regional governance structures, and to provide a space for sharing experience about the damage done to nature. Next Tribunal is planned in Bonn, november 2017 in adjunction with COP 23.


The Nature of learning - Humanity and the More-than-Human world in Education

How do we embed questions of humanity and nature in our learning? How do we address the overarching crucial concepts and values that shape how we see our roles as humans? In this workshop we will discuss the importance of making questions on the relationship between humanity and nature a priority in education about/for sustainability. Facilitated by Isak Stoddard and Malin Östman, together we will explore possibilities and challenges for educators and students, drawing on experiences and pedagogical practice from the transdisciplinary, collaborative and student-centred courses at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS) at Uppsala University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

Co-creating a new movement

All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come. But how do we get there? To be an earth rights activist means to be a carrier of a new paradigm, a new story in which rights of nature is transformed from one of many ideas into shaping the context for our common future. This requires courage – the courage to face yourself, others, the world and nature in new ways. The courage to be, feel, think and act from the inside out. An earth-centered worldview transforms our ideas of what activism means, what a movement is and how change occurs. Nature’s rights is a vision with the potential to connect the eco-social movement, to unleash our power as change agents. The workshop is facilitated by Niklas Högberg from Lodyn as a joint exploration based on dialogue and interactive exercises to utilize everyone’s wisdom.

Earth rights and the role of native spiritual traditions

Indigenous and traditional cosmovisions have been a very important inspiration for the Rights of Nature movement from the start. The sacredness and interconnectedness of all life is the foundation whereupon indigenous cultures are built. Dominant paradigms of colonization and modernization through history and in present times have caused transformations and even loss of many spiritual traditions. In this sense decolonization of indigenous knowledge and spirituality become an important challenge. This workshop is a dialogue between Patricia Gualinga from the Sarayaku, an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and Henrik Hallgren, practitioner of Forn Sidr – the Scandinavian heathen tradition. The dialogue is expressed partly as a shared ceremony and partly as a verbal dialogue where all participants will be invited to share reflections.

Ecological Rights and Environmental Justice

Humans, as part of nature, share the rights of nature. We live together in interconnected and interdependent ways. Rather than dwelling on the legal or philosophical aims to give nature rights, this workshop will reflect on how rights of nature relate to human rights and environmental justice. The demands that human societies place on nature may imply an unequal distribution of rights in some cases. Moreover, rights that are beneficial to certain societies may or may not be beneficial for other societies or lives. By extension, rights for nature must entail different kinds of rights for different communities. How might rights of nature support non-exploitative, mutually nurturing relationships between people? This workshop is organized by Environmental Humanities Laboratory at KTH and will investigate such issues and enhance a collaborative discussion among the participants.

Programme is under construction. Please check back again and like us on Facebook for updates!



Mari Margil is the Associate Director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), where she leads the organization’s International Center for the Rights of Nature. CELDF is a founding member of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, and assisted in drafting the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Mother Earth. Margil assisted Ecuador’s Constituent Assembly to draft Rights of Nature constitutional provisions, and is working in Nepal, India, Australia, and other countries to advance Rights of Nature frameworks. In 2016, Margil assisted members of the Ho-Chunk Nation in the United States to draft the first tribal constitutional amendment on the Rights of Nature, and advised members of the Green Party of England and Wales in developing their new party platform on the Rights of Nature.


Patricia Gualinga is the international representative for the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazon. Patricia has been participating in various international activities on the Rights of Nature sharing the knowledge and experience of her community and she has a long experience of environmental activism. Sarayaku is a rainforest community of 1200 Kichwa-speaking people famous for their successful efforts fighting back against the oil industry’s influence in their native land. Sarayaku has been able to resist the threats from the oil industry thanks to the collective efforts of the community.


Isak Stoddard is based at the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS) at the University of Uppsala and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. He works on developing transformative and transdisciplinary approaches to higher education, research as a response to the global environmental and social challenges of our times. Isak is also the coordinator of a new 10-year research-initiative on climate change leadership, centered around a series of visiting professorships at Uppsala University made possible by a donation from Zennström Philanthropies. Isak has an educational background in engineering physics, systems technology and energy systems. He enjoys frequent adventures to the Scandinavian mountains for skiing, wandering and climbing.


Niklas Högberg is a practitioner of ecopedagogy, transformative leadership and inner transition since 30 years. Early on he got involved with strategic and innovative organizations to implement social change to end hunger and poverty. Through UN-related initiatives, he carried out programs and projects to empower social sustainability based on people-centered and participatory approaches, both in South and North. During the last ten years, he has integrated his experiences of empowering sustainable change based on inner leadership, modern science, transformational activism as well as indigenous wisdom. He was part of pioneering the inner transition movement in Sweden through the work of Pachamama Alliance, including rights of nature.


Femke Wijdekop works as a Senior Expert in environmental justice for the program ‘Defending Environmental Defenders’ at IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands and is an associate of the Institute for Environmental Security in The Hague. Previously, she worked as a researcher in the fields of international and constitutional law at the University of Amsterdam. For the past several years, she has been working with End Ecocide in Europe and Polly Higgins to make ecocide the fifth crime against peace. Her published writings have focused on such issues as the emerging ecocentrism in law and the Urgenda climate case, in which she is a co-litigant. She holds a Masters of Law degree from the Free University Amsterdam.


Jan Terstad heads the Biodiversity and Forest Department at Swedish Society of Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen). He has a long experience working with nature conservation issues at the Government Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and other places.


Henrik Hallgren is the founder of Lodyn, a Swedish non-governmental organization engaged in Ecopsychology, Nature awareness and Nature’s rights activism. He is teaching courses, lectures and write books, articles and reports in these topics. In 2016 he was part of the interactive dialogue of the UN General Assembly on Harmony with Nature. He is a ceremonial leader in the Scandinavian heathen tradition called Forn Sed, and has an academic background in archaeology and social anthropology.


Malin Östman has worked at CEMUS since 2005 in different capacities. Currently she also works for the Faculty of Science and Technology at Uppsala university with educational development. 2013 Malin won Uppsala University´s pedagogical price for Active Student Participation. Right now her primary focus is on how to encourage students and the university at large to take on the current sustainability challenges as well as being an active participant in society.


Gunilla Högberg Björck is a lawyer and single owner of the law firm GBH Miljörätt, mainly working as legal representative for environmental NGOs and private citizens in matters of environmental law. Gunilla has worked with many different cases regarding protection of nature, issues of legal standing and access to justice. She represented the NGO Djurgården-Lilla Värtans Miljöskyddsförening before the EU court in case C-263/08 (a case resulting in changes in the Swedish Environmental Code concerning legal standing for environmental NGOs). Gunilla often teaches environmental law.


Cormac Cullinan is based in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a director of the South African environmental law firm, Cullinan & Associates Inc, and Chief Executive Officer of EnAct International, an environmental governance consultancy. A former anti-apartheid activist, and a London-based commercial lawyer, he has practised, taught and written about environmental law and policy since 1992, and has worked in more than 20 countries. In the academic field he has lectured and written widely on governance issues related to human interactions with the environment and is notable for authoring a book, Wild Law. Cormac led the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. His work in pioneering a legal philosophy that restores an ecological perspective to governance systems (Earth jurisprudence) is internationally recognised.


Marie Persson Njajta is a member of the Sami Parliament and human rights activist dedicated to indigenous rights and childrens rights. She has founded the Network Stop the mine in Rönnbäck, fighting the last 8 years against a nickel mine planned on her ancestral lands in the Ume river delta. Marie is often speaking on the exploitation and colonisation of Sapmi.


Peder Karlsson is the cultural coordinator of the conference. He graduated in 1989 from The Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Sweden, with a post-graduate Diploma in vocal ensemble performance.  He was a member of the internationally renowned Swedish a cappella group The Real Group 1984-2010, with whom he made 16 CDs and over 2000 concerts all over the world. Peder is Honorary Professor at Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus and Aalborg, Denmark, where he teaches artistic leadership in rhythmic choir music since 2015. He has co-created the “Organic Choirs” concept, which is based on rotated leadership and singer-centered creative processes. He is a founding member of European Voices Association and a part of the activism network End Ecocide Sweden.



Marco Armiero is Director of the Environmental Humanities Laboratory at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, where he is also Associate Professor of Environmental History. He is the author of A Rugged Nation. Mountains and the Making of Modern Italy (2011) and co-editor of A History of Environmentalism. Local Struggles, Global Histories (2014), and Nature and History in Modern Italy (2010). He is also a senior editor of Capitalism Nature Socialism and Environmental Humanities.

Conference hosted by

Lodyn, Sigtunastiftelsen, Cemus, Latinamerikagrupperna, End Ecocide Sweden, Färnebo folkhögskola, Environmental Humanities Lab at KTH with support from WWF Sweden.


4 + 2 =


Say yes to Rights of Nature
Help us reach a million signatures at

“A true “right of the environment” does exist.”

Pope Francis to the UN, September, 2015