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Italy Revises Its Constitution to Protect the Environment

In Western nations there has always been a bias in favor of "property" or business interests within the law. That bias succumbed to workers' rights during the 20th Century and is now being chipped away as nations seek to protect their increasingly fragile environments. Italy took a big step in that direction this week when its Parliament approved an addition to their Constitution that requires the government to safeguard the environment, biodiversity and the ecosystem "in the interest of future generations."

The European Union is encouraging its members to build a greener infrastructure with a large pot of loan and grant money linked to pandemic recovery.

Reuters: "Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani called the change "an essential step" for Italy as Rome acts to raise green investments to transform the economy under the European Union's post-coronavirus pandemic recovery fund."

The revisions passed by Parliament impact several key provisions of the Italian Constitution.

Article 41 is revised to say that while “private economic enterprise is free, It may not be carried out against the common good or in such a manner that could damage safety, liberty, human dignity, health, [and] the environment”. And, paragraph 3 of Article 41 now states: “The law shall provide for appropriate programmes and controls so that public and private-sector economic activity may be oriented and co-ordinated for social purposes, and the environment."

Under Italian law there are several ways in which the new provisions can be enforced. One is for private individuals or nonprofit environmental organizations to appeal to the Constitutional Court for a ruling, a process which is often slow and drawn out. Another is for the head of state to veto legislation and ask Parliament for revisions if they believe they do not respect the new environmental provisions.

In either case, legislators and regulators will now have to consider how future laws impact the environment.

Reuters: “Today’s vote represents a historical fact,” president of WWF [World Wildlife Fund] Italy Donatella Bianchi wrote in a statement. “Finally, environmental protection becomes a fundamental principle of the Republic to which future legislation will have to be inspired and to which past legislation will have to adapt.”

#news #environment #law

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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