Whanganui River – world’s first natural resource recognised as human

Last month, the Whanganui River of New Zealand’s north island became the world’s first natural resource to be legally identified as human.

Just days after, India followed suit allocating two of its rivers, The Ganges and Yamuna river legal person status.

Granting a natural resource legal personality allows those who live in close connection and geography to the river greater control over how it’s managed and how it’s protected.

However, these rulings are not without criticism with some calling them baseless.


  • Carwyn Jones – Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the Victoria University of Wellington.

Image: Kathrin & Stefan Marks on Flickr.

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