Climate change and ecological destruction, driven by the industrial growth economy, are causes of conflict and refugeeism worldwide. Photo: Telesurtv

Thomas Berry, the father of Earth Jurisprudence who was inspired by indigenous cosmologies, with friend and Gaia Trustee Jules Cashford. Photo: Gaia

Social movements are asserting that humanity has no future without a healthy planet. Photo: Peoples Rights, Planet’s Rights

Discussing the vital role of women in the protection of seed diversity with a participant at an Earth Jurisprudence process in Uganda. Photo: Hal Rhoades

Right now the world’s governments are gathered at the United Nations’ ongoing 71st General Assembly in New York, where the growing, climate-change fueled refugee crisis is top of the agenda.

The world’s governments are struggling, shamefully, to find the political will to address the root causes of the conflicts and converging ecological, social and economic crises forcing millions to make perilous journeys away from their homelands.

These root causes run deep, but we have good news to share that this year the UN has taken a big step towards recognising that one of the deepest origin of these crises lies in the broken relationship between humanity and Earth, our only home.

When Earth is treated as a ‘resource’ to be exploited for profit and economic growth, and human law is used to justify destruction of nature and human communities, multidimensional crises like the ones we are now experiencing are an inevitable consequence.

Gaia’s vision is for a world in which humans live in a mutually enhancing relationship with Nature; where power is held to account for the good of the whole. Bringing this vision into reality requires, most fundamentally a deep turning in how we think about and relate to Earth, our only home.

This is why we are delighted that this year the UN General Assembly has chosen to acknowledge the importance of Earth Jurisprudence- a practical philosophy for Earth-centred living and governance that, like indigenous traditions, recognises Earth as our primary source of law.

During the General Assembly this month, the UN will receive a report from the 6th Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature – an unprecedented global discussion on Earth Jurisprudence which the Gaia team and close allies helped to facilitate.

This report summarises the insights and recommendations of 120 participants worldwide from various fields. It emphasises the crucial importance of going beyond anthropocentrism- a human-centred world view- to establish an Earth-centred relationship with our planet. This Earth-centred worldview should underpin the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says the report.

Called for by the UN General Assembly itself, the dialogue is an important recognition from the UN that the anthropocentric worldview that underpins our exploitative, injust economic, legal and governance systems, is the ultimate source of the multiple ecological, social and economic crises we now face.

The emergence of Earth Jurisprudence at UN-level is a testament to the work of social movements and communities on the frontlines of struggles to end our extractive, usury relationship with Earth and each other.

These movements- for food sovereignty, climate justice, and indigenous rights and reponsibilities- have long been calling for systems change and a just transition towards an ecologically and socially just world for generations to come.

As we know, we cannot change the system with the same thinking that created it in the first place. Seeing ourselves and our relationship with the Earth, our source of life, through a different lens takes time and practice.

Through transformational trainings, cultural regeneration processes and initiatives to promote Earth Jurisprudence, like the UN dialogue, Gaia is supporting movements to inspire and affirm the emergence Earth-centred ways of seeing and being in the world.