“Rights of Nature” - an initiative of the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT

The goal of increased responsibility for the natural basis of life brings with it the demand for a strengthening of nature’s position in the legal system. In 2008, the “Rights of Nature” initiative is started by Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT, Center of excellence for business and the environment in Hamburg.

Who will pass judgment in favor of the polar bears on their melting icebergs?  When will environmental sinners from business and society be held accountable for damages caused? How can justice be served in the name of nature, creatures, and future generations?

From democracy to biocracy

In 1993, Dr. Georg Winter coined the term Biocracy at the International Conference for Eco-Management in Tokyo.

“Biocracy as a form of government means: respect human dignity, honor all life in all its diversity, preserve and promote life, mediate value conflicts conscientiously and defend endangered life decisively.”

Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT,
Center of Excellence for Business and the Environment


Rights of Nature – Human Rights Aren’t Enough

60 years after the Declaration of Human Rights - a Declaration of the Rights of Nature is long overdue.

In 2008, Dr. Georg Winter organized a symposium at the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT, Hamburg. Winter proposed that not only conservation organizations but in future also animal welfare organizations should be able to pursue their demands with so-called collective court action.


The Flag of United Nature - the Face of United Nature

Humanity is one of many stars of the flora and fauna. The blue circle symbolizes the globe, the white background stands for peace.

Dr. Georg Winter created the symbol of the equality of all living species including humans.

Five minutes to twelve

The flag of United Nature is hoisted by four environmental centers at the same time, at five minutes to twelve. In front of the Haus der Zukunft, the flag is raised by a group of children. Winter had organized the first flying of the flag back in 2006 at the World Life Culture Forum in Kyeonggi, South Korea. In 2014 on the occasion of the “Week of the Sun”, Prof. Volker Stahlmann raised the flag of United Nature in front of the Kulturbahnhof Ottensoos.


Biocracy Award for dissertations in the field of law on the participation rights of nature, founded by Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Research Center for Environmental Law at the University of Hamburg in 2008, Dr. Georg Winter, founder of the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT in Hamburg and member of the board of the Association for the Promotion of Environmental Research, created the “Biocracy Award”. The highly endowed award is given for outstanding academic work in the field of  nature and posterity conservation. The Biocracy Award honors achievements that contribute in a particularly effective way to an improved alignment of the legal system with the responsibility towards all lives. In addition to jurisprudence, achievements in science, environmental education and politics are also eligible for consideration.


Presentation of the first Biocracy Award and “Rights of Nature” conference at the University of Hamburg

Winners of the first Biocracy Award: Dr. Angela Schwerdtfeger (left) and Dr. Jan-Hendrik Dietrich (right) with the founder Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT Hamburg (middle)
Winners of the first Biocracy Award: Dr. Angela Schwerdtfeger (left) and Dr. Jan-Hendrik Dietrich (right) with the founder Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT Hamburg (middle)

Biocracy Award winner Dr. Angela Schwerdtfeger investigates in her dissertation the influence of the provisions of international law laid down by the Aarhus Convention on the German legal protection system and the rights of environmental organizations and individuals to file court action. In his dissertation, Dr. Jan Hendrik Dietrich analyzes the conflict of objectives between environmental protection and the interests of national defense in the case of military-related environmental damage.


Presentation of the second Biocracy Award and conference at the University of Hamburg

The winners of the second Biocracy Award Dr. Cathrin Zengerling (left) and Prof. Berndt Heydemann (right)
The winners of the second Biocracy Award Dr. Cathrin Zengerling (left) and Prof. Berndt Heydemann (right)

The Biocracy Award 2013 was presented to Dr. Cathrin Zengerling from Hamburg for her dissertation on “Greening International Jurisprudence - Environmental NGOs before International Courts, Tribunals, and Compliance Committees” and to Prof. Berndt Heydemann for his lifetime achievements.


The Rights of Nature / Biocracy portal goes online (in German)

A new logo based on the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT symbol was then created in 2016.


Academic conference “Rights of Nature – in the Dimension of Economics” at the University of Hamburg

Enforcing the “rights of nature” helps to achieve climate goals and safeguard human rights. With this conference on the “rights of nature in the dimension of economics” the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT mobilized the “rights of nature” concept for economics.

In his keynote lecture, Prof. Klaus Töpfer, former German Federal Minister for the Environment, later Director of the United Nations Environment Program and then Chairman of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, assessed the global climate situation and the chances of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, due to begin three days later.

15 experts point out – and demonstrate by example – which business methods can be used to prevent the destruction of natural resources. Sustainability-oriented ethics in society, economy and business prove to be indispensable.

Dr. Georg Winter, HAUS DER ZUKUNFT, calls for nature to be provided with its own constitutional rights. The rights of nature network in Germany expanded the legal issue to include the economic dimension.

Book Series “Rights of Nature / Biocracy” (in German)

The book series “Rights of Nature / Biocracy” was conceived by Prof. Eberhard Seidel. More than 35 authors have contributed to the series comprising 20 volumes, published by the HAUS DER ZUKUNFT and the Metropolis Verlag. The basic texts by Georg Winter and Eberhard Seidel can be downloaded free of charge.


Conference on Rights of Nature/Biocracy in Economics and Organization

A growing number of sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs, economists and scholars discuss a reorientation of business management theory. They add to the fundamental criticism vis-a-vis neo-liberal economic theory the specific, concrete demand to anchor the intrinsic rights of nature in the constitution.

The symposium was held in Siegen in honor of Prof. Eberhard Seidel’s 80th birthday.


Conference on the Rights of Nature, Biocracy and Human Rights in Ottensoos/Nuremberg

Prof. Volker Stahlmann of the Kulturbahnhof Ottensoos Foundation ( has organized, in collaboration with the city of Nuremberg, a two-day symposium on the 9th/10th of November, with the aim of anchoring, in the legal order, the economy and in society, the intrinsic rights of nature as a central value and a prerequisite for dignified human existence. On the first day, an expert meeting on the legal, economic and cultural dimension will be held at the Kulturbahnhof Ottensoos. The second day, in Nuremberg (city of human rights and peace, and biometropolis), the focus will be on the sustainability strategy of the city of Nuremberg and its connection with natural resources and the rights of nature. Conditions for success, connectivity and pragmatic approaches for a sustainable connection between law, ecology, social issues and an economy of good life will be presented and discussed in lectures and workshops.