Procedural Rights for Nature - A Pathway to Sustainable Decarbonisation?



Schapper A, Hoffmann C & Lee P (2022) Procedural Rights for Nature - A Pathway to Sustainable Decarbonisation?. Third World Quarterly, 43 (5), pp. 1197-1216.

Resource conflicts and human-environment conflicts are active across the globe. As planetary, carbon-induced climate change necessitates new responses, the policies and practices of decarbonisation add new dimensions to existing conflicts. Using examples from two nations with ambitious aims for the decarbonization of their economies, Ethiopia and Morocco, we illustrate how unintended conflicts and adverse ecosystem impacts arise when nature cannot participate in decision-making processes. Transition to low carbon economies, we argue, generates and exacerbates multi-dimensional conflicts of interest between state and society, as well as between society and ecosystems. Taking an interdisciplinary perspective, we suggest establishing procedural rights of nature via (1) stronger consideration of scientific expertise, (2) an enhancement of environmental safeguards and (3) making funding linked to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) conditional upon participation of nature in decision-making processes through legal guardians. We use counterfactuals as a method to demonstrate how procedural rights of nature, in the cases of Ethiopia and Morocco, could change green economy and climate mitigation projects, making them less conflict-prone and more sustainable.

Environmental conflict; zero-carbon transitions; rights of nature; procedural rights; sustainable development

Third World Quarterly: Volume 43, Issue 5

Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online14/04/2022
Date accepted by journal01/03/2022

People (2)


Dr Clemens Hoffmann

Dr Clemens Hoffmann

Senior Lecturer, Politics

Professor Andrea Schapper

Professor Andrea Schapper

Professor, Politics