For too long, current adults have monopolized the legacy of nature over which we adults are only temporary caretakers. ~Dr. Adrian Treves
Wildlife and other natural resources are a public trust which means that every citizen has an interest and a voice in the management of natural resources. The public trust is a legal concept that implies that we all share equal, undivided interests in America’s environmental resources; and has informed two centuries of U.S.A. Supreme Court decisions and environmental laws worldwide.
In an ongoing lawsuit, teenagers are suing the federal government for failing to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The youths argue for their constitutional right to a stable and predictable atmosphere. They rightfully argue that current adults are only temporary caretakers over our natural resources.
The U.S.A. is among many democratic governments that recognize a duty to conserve environmental resources, including wild animals, as a public trust for current and future citizens.
In fact, a new paper reveals that intergenerational rights to a healthy environment are protected by the constitutions of 75% of the world’s nations. Currently, these principles of sovereign public trust are often overlooked but, if enforced, they would offer sustainable protection for the biosphere.
Read the paper, “Intergenerational equity can help to prevent climate change and extinction” here.