Blue Mountains City Council will investigate integrating the Rights of Nature into future operations and planning following a successful push by the mayor at the last council meeting.
The Rights of Nature is a growing international movement that says, in order to ensure an environmentally sustainable future, we must change our attitude and way of thinking from an exploitative and ultimately self-destructive relationship with nature, to one that values and respects all life and contributes to the health and integrity of the natural environment.
Mayor Mark Greenhill moved a mayoral minute on the issue at the March 31 council meeting, saying "as one of only two cities within a World Heritage National Park, and the only one in Australia, we feel it is our responsibility to be a leader in responsible and sustainable government and management".
"This is a completely new paradigm of thinking for industrialised western societies, but it is essential to our future," he said.
"And while it's new to us, it is closely aligned with many First Nations and traditional indigenous 'Caring for Country' concepts, like those practiced by Traditional Owners in the Blue Mountains and across Australia.
"In practice, embracing the Rights of Nature in law means rejecting the notion that nature is merely human property to be used and often, abused, but instead that it has the right to exist, thrive and evolve - just as we do."
The council agreed the concept warranted further investigation to identify opportunities to incorporate this new way of thinking into Blue Mountains City Council's operations, planning processes and advocacy programs.
Ward 2 Councillor Brent Hoare said: "Embracing the Rights of Nature in our law and thinking is becoming increasingly recognised as an important part of living sustainably and I'm very glad to have raised it with mayor Greenhill. It's tremendous to see this recognition by the council, and it will be exciting to see Rights of Nature associated with the Blue Mountains."
A report will be prepared and presented to the council later in the year.
"The Rights of Nature concept may seem a little 'out there' to some in the community, but it's not that far removed from what council is already doing in other spaces," said the mayor.
"We recently embedded the Planetary Health ethos into the Local Strategic Planning Statement. Planetary Health recognises that human health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked, and that human civilisation depends on human health, flourishing natural systems, and the wise stewardship of natural resources.
"The Rights of Nature is an extension of similar principles, and the next logical step.
"It really comes down to - are we doing enough to secure the future of our environment, which we depend on for our own health as well as our economy."
The Local Strategic Planning Statement was adopted by the council on March 31.