Nothing is more powerful than effective legislation to save the environment
My solution to protecting the environment is design new laws called Fiduciary Legislation. These laws will bound all political and judicial leadership to a clear set of duty of care obligations.
Government is a trust structure owned by the citizens and its management are politicians and judges whose power has been conferred to them with an expectation that our elected leadership will do the right thing.
Political leadership is in a vortex of conflicting interests. Destructive executive action too often operates under dubious circumstances. And facing those hidden mandates are environmentalists who so often face the doors of power being closed in their face from local councils right through to Cabinet ministers. Only laws with clear intent offer protection to the weak and vulnerable. Well-resourced corporations with limitless budgets employ the best legal firepower to get what they want. Fiduciary legislation will counter that.
What conservation problem are you trying to solve?
Under the current system good ideas are too often ignored in favour of powerful corporations. Political leaders have the power to heal the damage done to our environment, but they don't have the will because of the lack of laws to hold them to account and perhaps hidden competing and conflicting loyalty. Fiduciary Legislation will offer anyone from someone trying to stop council spraying toxins that kill frogs through to persuading ministers to declare protective reserves.
How are you going to solve this conservation problem?
Fiduciary law as it currently stands in only available in an area of law known as equity and is both poorly crafted and underutilised. Yet it is a law where a person (politician or judge) has undertaken to act in the interest of another or conversely where one has communicated an expectation that another will act to protect or promote his or her interests. Fiduciary obligations typically apply when one party reposes a special trust and power leaving the public vulnerable to the actions of those with the power. Without it being legislated it leaves those in power authority to ignore harm to our environment. This proposal is to modernise democracy to the degree where political leadership are forced to actively protect what has been conferred to them to protect instead of ignoring the responsibilities of leadership. In simple terms this new law will allow power to be more horizontal than vertical where those at the top are untouchable.
What makes your idea new and unique?
I’m reminded of the old saying; “The buck stops with those at the top” and it is at the desks of governments and our courts where either we get protection or we are denied protection of our environment. This single law will set a new standard of duty of care from those in power and no one globally has ever attempted such an undertaking. They say leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence, and making it last in your absence. That is what good fiduciary law offers.
Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?
Anyone could use this new law by lodging a complaint. Imagine if every criminal act required a victim to fund their own litigation to prosecute those who have harmed them. Well you don't do you, because with the Crime Act, the onus is for the Crown to act to undertake that task. Fiduciary law legislated, expanded to detail duty of care obligations will be a game changer.
What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?
I would use the money to employ a small team of legal experts to draft fiduciary law into a workable, adoptable set of laws ready to be introduced as a private members bill for Parliament. People, media sit up when you have a document like that in your hand. I have put 16 years into thinking about how this law can be applied. Over the years I have employed some of the best legal minds from all over the globe but none to create a bill ready to present to parliament. The time is ready to modernise democracy by making those at the top accountable to a clear set of rules. Naturally the more we budget on this, the better the detail, the better the impact.
Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?
List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?
Monitoring of water quality within our water circulation network is critical. The protection of birds, eradication of wasps, trapping of destructive animals. Or addressing urban and rural runoff and leaching, and monitoring for carcinogenic herbicides and endocrine disrupting chemicals, nitrogen (both non source and natural), heavy metals, micro plastics, hydrocarbons, E. coli, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, seepage or hydrologic modification. Every person here making an entry has done so from passion so they all excite me.
How could you improve your idea?
By reminding us the words of Martin Luther King who once said that “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.” Protecting our environment reminds me of the sinking Titanic. While you seal one compartment, others are ripped open so despite efforts to save the ship, the ship will go down because the damage is over such a wide area. That's kind of what it's like working to save our environment yet as carers of the people our political leadership should be leading the rescues. This is why WWF needs to convey its critical we make our politicians and judges accountable to a new set of rules to do the right thing. Between fossil fuels and deforestation carnage we urgently need fiduciary legislation. We can make this a reality and force it onto our reluctant politicians by backdooring them via political parties by existing card carrying members voting it be adopted as new party policy.