Magna Carta and Environmental Rights in Massachusetts

October 2014

Professor Duncan French today gave a public lecture at The Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts on Magna Carta, Citizenship and Environmental Rights. The Clark is currently exhibiting the Lincoln copy of the Magna Carta.

Professor French noted in his conclusion:

'If Magna Carta represents the principles that the government should act within the law and that the rights of the governed should be respected, protecting the environment is as much an area that these principles can play out as any other area of political regulation. Or in the words of the Magna Carta: its purpose is the better ordering of our kingdom. In more modern parlance, we might talk about good governance, the rule of law and legitimate regulatory action.

Let me conclude by simply reminding ourselves of the enduring and intrinsic link between society and nature referring to another UN document, the 1982 World Charter for Nature; Civilization is rooted in nature, which has shaped human culture and influenced all artistic and scientific achievement, and living in harmony with nature gives man the best opportunities for the development of his creativity, and for rest and recreation. It is perhaps more poetic than the language of Magna Carta but is no less an important truism of what makes for a good society'.