GARN Global - Rights Of Nature
Who we are

Executive Committee Members

Nnimmo Bassey
Nnimmo Bassey
Nigeria

Director of the ecological think-tank, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), member of the steering committee of Oilwatch International. Previously chair of Friends of the Earth International (2008-2012) and Executive Director of Nigeria’s Environmental Rights Action (1993-2013). Co-recipient of the 2010 Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Rafto Human Rights Award 2012. Author of books on the environment, architecture, and poetry, such as We Thought it Was Oil, But It was Blood –Poetry (Kraft Books, 2002), I Will Not Dance to Your Beat – Poetry (Kraft Books, 2011), To Cook a Continent – Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa (Pambazuka Press, 2012) and Oil Politics – Echoes of Ecological War (Daraja Press, 2016).

Michelle Bender
Michelle Bender
United States

Ocean Campaigns Director at Earth Law Center (ELC), founder and creator of the Ocean Rights framework, spearheading an innovative and paradigm-shifting solution to our ocean management challenges. In 2018, she was named one of 15 Youth Ocean Leaders taking on the world by the Sustainable Ocean Alliance. Environmental law and policy specialist with expertise in ocean and wildlife law. Member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Environmental Law and United Nations Harmony with Nature network. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Vermont Law School, where she earned a Master’s in Environmental Law and Policy and holds a B.S. in Biology with a Marine Emphasis from Western Washington University.

Shannon Biggs
Shannon Biggs
United States

Co-founder and director of US-based Movement Rights, an Indigenous and women-led organization working primarily with tribes and communities of color to align human laws with the laws of the natural world. 

Previously Community & Nature’s Rights program Director at Global Exchange for 12 years. At that time she was among a handful of US organizers to articulate and spread the ideas that have become a vibrant global movement for the Rights of Nature. Co-founder of GARN. 

Globally, she has worked with Indigenous communities, led Rights of Nature fact-finding delegations in India, New Zealand, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and organized and participated in international Rights of Nature Tribunals. 

Co-author of two books, Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grass Roots and The Rights of Nature: Making the Case for the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. Senior staffer at International Forum on Globalization (IFG) and Lecturer in International Relations and Environment at SFSU, holds a Masters in Economics, Empire and Decolonization from the London School of Economics (LSE).

Valérie Cabanes
Valérie Cabanes
France

Legal expert in international law, specializing in human rights. Member of the Executive Committee of GARN since 2015 and one of the experts of the UN Harmony with Nature initiative network since 2016. 

After two decades in NGO fieldwork, she started in 2006 a Ph.D. in Legal Anthropology in Northern Quebec with the Innu people and then got involved in the defense of their ancestral territory against large hydroelectric dam projects.  She also opposed this type of industrial project in the Brazilian Amazon, notably the Belo Monte dam, by preparing reports debated within the United Nations Human Rights Council or the European Parliament. 

In 2013, she launched a European citizen initiative on the crime of ecocide, then co-founded in 2015 the NGO Notre Affaire à Tous at the initiative of a Climate case against the French government supported by 2 million citizens. In 2015, she became a Sponsor of the NGO Initiatives for Nuclear Disarmament (IDN), and a member of ICAN (Nobel Peace Prize 2017). She also contributed to the drafting of the project for a Universal Declaration of Humankind Rights commissioned by the French President, François Hollande, and to a proposal for amendments to the Statute of the International Criminal Court on the crime of Ecocide. In 2019, she co-founded Wild&Legal, a school of Law training in the doctrine of the Rights of Nature, and joined in 2020 the expert drafting panel on the legal definition of “ecocide” convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation.

Cormac Cullinan
Cormac Cullinan
South Africa

Author, practicing environmental attorney, and governance expert who has worked on environmental governance issues in more than 20 countries. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and is a director of Cullinans, a specialist environmental and green business law firm of the governance consultancy, EnAct International, and of the Wild Law Institute. His groundbreaking book “Wild Law A Manifesto for Earth Justice” has played a significant role in informing and inspiring a growing international movement to recognize rights for Nature. In 2008 he was included in Planet Savers. 301 Extraordinary Environmentalists, a book that profiles environmentalists throughout history. At the invitation of Bolivia, Cormac spoke at the 2009 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and led the drafting of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which was proclaimed on 22 April 2010 by the People’s World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia. In September 2010 he played a leading role in establishing GARN and currently sits on its Executive Committee.

Tom Goldtooth
Tom Goldtooth
United States

 Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, an international indigenous NGO based in Bemidji, Minnesota near the border of the United States/Canada. A social change-maker within the Native American community for over 36 years, Tom has become an internationally renowned environmental, climate, and economic justice leader, working with many Indigenous People and social movements around the world. Co-producer of the award-winning documentary, Drumbeat for Mother Earth, which addresses the effects of bioaccumulative chemicals on indigenous people. Co-founder of GARN. President of the Fourth Rights of Nature Tribunal in Bonn, Germany.

Natalia Greene
Natalia Greene
Ecuador

Bachelor of Arts at Hampshire College, Massachusetts. Master’s degree in Social Sciences from FLACSO-Ecuador, Master’s degree in Climate Change from UASB-EC. Promoted the recognition of Rights for Nature in Ecuador’s Constitution and has worked on the environmental and indigenous aspects of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative to keep oil underground in the Amazon. Previously President, currently Vice President of the Ecuadorian Coordinator of Organizations for the Defense of Nature and the Environment (CEDENMA), member of GARN’s Executive Committee, coordinator of the GARN’s global team, and Secretary of the International Tribunals for the Rights of Nature.  Consultant of the Sacred Watersheds Initiative and promoter of the collective Frente al Ambiente in Ecuador. Expert of the UN Harmony with Nature initiative network since 2016.

Osprey Orielle Lake
Osprey Orielle Lake
United States

Founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). Works nationally and internationally with grassroots and Indigenous leaders, policy-makers, and scientists to mobilize women for climate justice, resilient communities, systemic change, and a just transition to a clean energy future. Member of GARN’s Executive Committee and visionary behind the International Women’s Earth and Climate Summit, which brought together 100 women leaders from around the world. Directs WECAN’s advocacy work in areas such as Women for Forests, Divestment/Investment, Indigenous Rights, Rights of Nature, and United Nation Climate Conferences. Author of the award-winning book, Uprisings for the Earth: Reconnecting Culture with Nature.

Samantha Novella
Samantha Novella
France

Director of the NGO NatureRights and an artistic director. Helps organize, fund, and promote the End Ecocide movement. A key ally in the organization of the Third International Rights of Nature Tribunal in Paris, France.

Enrique Viale
Enrique Viale
Argentina

Environmental lawyer. He became a lawyer in 2000, graduating from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and then conducting postgraduate studies and specializing in Environmental Law. In 2004, he founded, together with other young colleagues, the Asociación Argentina de Abogados Ambientalistas (AAdeAA). Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and a visiting professor at other universities.

He is a critic of the “development” model based on unlimited growth, promoter of the Rights of Nature, and has coined the concept of “urban extractivism” to refer to the role of real estate speculation in urban and peri-urban areas. He is also the author of several articles addressing Development, Politics, Law, and Environmental Justice published in Argentina and abroad.

Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva
India

Philosopher, environmental activist, and ecofeminist. Currently based in Delhi, Vandana has authored more than 20 books and over 500 papers in leading scientific and technical journals. Among her books are: Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development; and Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis. Trained as a physicist and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

One of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalization movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices. Member of the scientific committee of the Fundación IDEAS, Spain’s Socialist Party’s think tank. Was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

Margaret Stewart
Margaret Stewart
United States

Director at the Center for Earth Jurisprudence. Key Advisor to Barry University law students that work with CEJ as Earth Law & Policy Fellows.

Formerly served on the Executive Committee and chaired the Legal Committee of the Florida Springs Council. GARN Executive Committee member, currently facilitates the GARN Legal Hub.

Contributing author to the first ever Earth Law textbook, Earth Law: Emerging Ecocentric Law: A Guide for Practitioners. Earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, her Masters in Non-Profit & Human Resources Management from Penn State University, her Juris Doctor from Barry University School of Law, and her LL.M. from Western New England School of Law. While in law school, Margaret earned her Environmental Law Honors Certificate and worked two semesters in the Environmental and Earth Law Clinic. She now lectures on Earth Jurisprudence and Earth Law at Barry and around the world. She is a member of the Florida Bar.

Alessandro Pelizzon
Alessandro Pelizzon
Italy - Australia

Academic at Southern Cross University, where he currently serves as a member of Council and has also served in a number of management roles. Completed his LLB/LLM at the University of Turin in Italy, specializing in comparative law and legal anthropology with a field research project conducted in the Andes. His doctoral research, conducted at the University of Wollongong, focused on native title and legal pluralism in the Illawarra region. 

Alessandro has been exploring the emerging discourse on Rights of Nature, Wild Law, and Earth Jurisprudence since its inception, with a particular focus on the intersection between this emerging discourse and different legal ontologies. In addition to having published extensively in the area, he has organized numerous events in Australia on Wild Law and Earth Jurisprudence, he is one of GARN’s founding members and of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, and he has been a moderator at the UN General Assembly Dialogue on the Harmony with Nature. 

Alessandro is currently an Executive Committee Member at GARN and an expert member of the UN Harmony with Nature program. Alessandro’s main areas of research are legal anthropology, legal theory, comparative law, ecological jurisprudence, sovereignty, and Indigenous rights.

Fiona Wilton
Fiona Wilton
United Kingdom - Uruguay

Fiona grew up with a passion for the sea and big storms. Her native soil is the Atlantic-facing coast of Cornwall, in the UK, but she has lived mostly in South America, in Ecuador, Colombia, and Uruguay. 

Since 1992 she has been working with the Gaia Foundation, global partners and indigenous communities, on a myriad of initiatives to protect and restore the Earth’s vitality and diversity. From the Andes to the Amazon to the Atlantic, her story is one of being immersed in supporting community-led programs and influencing policy around biocultural diversity, traditional knowledge, sacred lands, and waters.

She contributes to expert groups such as the IUCN Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas and UN Harmony with Nature Knowledge Network, supports the African Earth Jurisprudence Collective, collaborates with initiatives in Uruguay and globally to restore love and care for our ocean, and has an MSc in Protected Landscape Management. She is a mother and sailor and shares her home in Playa Verde, Uruguay, with energetic dogs and wildlife.

Shrishtee Bajpai
Shrishtee Bajpai
India

Environmental and social activist-researcher from India. She works with environmental action group Kalpavriksh where her work is focused on documenting, researching, and networking on radical alternatives to dominant systems. She helps in coordinating the Vikalp Sangam process (Alternatives Confluences) in India and is a core team member of Global Tapestry of Alternatives – a global process of weaving networks of alternatives. 

She has been researching, networking, and advocating on the Rights of Nature movement with a specific focus on rivers in South Asia. She has helped co-initiate Rights of Rivers South Asia Alliance

Fellow (2021-2022) at Post-growth Institute, US. Masters in Development Studies.

GARN Global - Rights Of Nature
Who we are

Advisory Board Members

Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow
Canada

Chairs board of Washington-based Food and Water Watch, Councillor with the Hamburg-based World Future Council, Honorary Chancellor of Brescia University. Recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates and leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN. Author of dozens of reports, as well as 19 books.

Liz Hosken
Liz Hosken
South Africa

Co-founder and Director of the Gaia Foundation. Developed and co-facilitated a three-year training in the philosophy and practice of Earth Jurisprudence. BSc in Environmental Sciences, Masters in Philosophy and Education for Social Change.

Alicia Jiménez
Alicia Jiménez
Costa Rica

Director of Programs at the Earth Charter International (ECI) Secretariat in Costa Rica. Overseer at the ECI for Latin America, Africa & the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific since 2006.

Esperanza Martínez
Esperanza Martínez
Ecuador

Member and founder of Acción Ecológica. Co-founder of Oilwatch. President of Office Pro Defense of Nature and its Rights. Biologist and lawyer. Consultant to the Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador in 2008. Authored numerous articles and books on the Rights of Nature, oil, and environmental struggles in Ecuador.

Lisa Mead
Lisa Mead
United Kingdom

Co-founder and lead coordinator of the Earth Law Alliance. Faculty member and professor at Findhorn College. Presented a new case for consideration at the Third International Tribunal for the Rights of Nature in Paris, France, on the issue of Depletion of Marine Life in 2015.

Michelle Maloney
Michelle Maloney
Australia

Lawyer and advocate for Earth-centered law and governance. Co-Founder and National Convenor of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (AELA), Adjunct Senior Fellow, Law Futures Centre, Griffith University; Director of the New Economy Network Australia (NENA) and Future Dreaming Australia. Member of the Steering Group for the International Ecological Law and Governance Association (ELGA).

Carolyn Raffensperger
Carolyn Raffensperger
United States

Environmental lawyer, Executive Director of the Science & Environmental Health Network (SEHN), leading expert on the Precautionary Principle. Authored a number of papers and publications.

Linda Sheehan
Linda Sheehan
United States

Executive Director of Environment Now. Developed and implemented nature’s rights initiatives as Executive Director and Co-Founder of Earth Law Center, led the California Coastkeeper Alliance as Executive Director, and oversaw Ocean Conservancy’s work as Pacific Region Director.

Patricia Siemen
Patricia Siemen
United States

Catholic Sister and civil lawyer. Prioress (President) of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan since 2016. Founded the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida, in 2006 and the Earth Law Center in 2008. Taught Earth jurisprudence and legal rights of nature as an adjunct professor at Barry University and St. Thomas Universities Law Schools from 2006 to 2016.

Pablo Solón
Pablo Solón
Bolivia

Social and environmental activist. Director of Fundación Solón working on issues of energy, forests, climate change, investment, and systemic alternatives.

Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Iran - United States

Founder and board president of Amazon Watch and served as the organization’s first Executive Director for 18 years. Director of global strategy for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative.

Bill Twist
Bill Twist
United States

Co-founder of Pachamama Alliance, serves as its chief executive officer and president since 1996.

Leonardo Boff
Leonardo Boff
Brazil

Doctorate from Munich in Germany, previously Professor of Theology at the Jesuit Institute for Philosophy and Theology in Petropolis for 20 years. Professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro since 1993, where he is now Emeritus Professor of Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Ecology. Member of Earthcharter. One of the founders of liberation theology.

GARN Global - Rights Of Nature

GARN Team Members

Natalia Greene – Director and co-founder, Ecuador
Juan Esteban Suárez – Assistant Organizer, Ecuador
Josefina Mösle – Communications Director, Uruguay
Ashley Cline – Development Coordinator, United States
Galo Chiriboga – Art Director and Web Developer, Ecuador