Rights for nature consti­tu­ti­o­na­lized! Party for the Animals launches initi­ative

19 April 2023

The Dutch Party for the Animals has started an initiative to include rights for nature in the Constitution and thus put an end to the current inadequate protection of nature. This would make the Netherlands the first country in Europe to enshrine rights for nature in the Constitution. MP Leonie Vestering of the Dutch Party for the Animals: “The switch to eco-central thinking must be given a place in the Constitution. In our lawbooks, nature is still seen as an object without rights, intended for human use and property.” When nature – the basis of our existence and that of all life on Earth – is rapidly deteriorating.

The first country in the world to enshrine the rights of nature in its constitution was Ecuador. There are now more than 400 initiatives worldwide to recognize the rights of nature in local and national legislation. In Europe, various studies are ongoing into how rights for nature should be enshrined in (fundamental) law. And in the Netherlands, too, the subject a hot topic, from research into rights for the Wadden Sea or the river Meuse, to a practice court by the Embassy of the North Sea.

Although the number of rules and laws for the protection of nature has increased worldwide, nature, animals and ecosystems are rapidly declining. Globally, one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction. In the Netherlands, one of the most densely populated and livestock-dense countries in Europe, 90% of habitat types and 75% of species are in poor condition. On the initiative of MP Leonie Vestering of the Party for the Animals, experts and citizens are therefore investigating how fundamental rights for nature can be laid down in Dutch law.

Leonie Vestering explains: “Nature is the foundation of our existence. Without nature, there is no clean air, water or food. But none of the existing nature regulations appears to adequately protect nature for current and future generations. Often, a judge has to get involved to enforce the implementation of nature regulations. Once the fundamental rights for nature have been recognised, the importance of nature will be considered in advance rather than settled in court afterwards. Echoing the many global initiatives, I am therefore looking for a new basis for our Dutch law: one in which the fundamental rights of nature are recognized and anchored.”