105: The Rights of Nature with Julia Talbot-Jones

In this episode, Michael speaks with Julia Talbot-Jones, Senior Lecture in the School of Government at the University of Wellington. Julia studies how institutions solve environmental and natural resource problems, with a particular focus on rights of nature approaches. Julia has collaborated with Erin O’Donnell, who is a previous guest on the podcast and has also written on this topic.

The formal rights of nature approach is ideally meant to instill into our laws a more intrinsic value in our treatment of the environment, rather than only viewing it instrumentally. Julia has studied maybe the most famous case of formalized rights to nature, this being the Whanganui River, Aotearoa New Zealand. This has been used as the basis for other rights of river approaches in other countries, but Julia cautions against the application of formal rules without local cultural and context, which cannot be so easily copied.

Julia’s website: https://people.wgtn.ac.nz/julia.talbotjones


O’Donnell, E. L., and J. Talbot-Jones. 2018. Creating legal rights for rivers. Ecology and Society.

Talbot-Jones, J. 2017. The Institutional Economics of Granting a River Legal Standing. PhD Dissertation. The Australian National University.

Talbot-Jones, J., and J. Bennett. 2019. Toward a property rights theory of legal rights for rivers. Ecological economics: the journal of the International Society for Ecological Economics 164:106352.

Talbot-Jones, J., and J. Bennett. 2022. Implementing bottom-up governance through granting legal rights to rivers: a case study of the Whanganui River, Aotearoa New Zealand. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 29(1):64–80.