Ecocide law proposed in the Nether­lands

14 agosto 2023

Short before the summer break, Dutch Party for the Animals MEP, Lammert van Raan, launched a law proposal to criminalise ecocide in the Netherlands. If this bill passes, the concept of ecocide, the massive destruction of ecosystems, will be included in the Dutch criminal law code. Van Raan: ‘With this proposal, we’re introducing a new standard to criminal law’.

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Jojo Mehta (Stop Ecocide International) and Lammert van Raan (MP Party for the Animals) during an Animal Politics World Conference, explaining ecocide and why it needs to be recognized as a crime.

If the law proposal passes, company directors can be personally prosecuted for committing environmental crimes. MP Van Raan explains: "The environment has an intrinsic value and serious damage to that environment, by human actions or by inaction, must be made punishable".

The Dutch parliament member points out why the Party for the Animals considers it essential to implement this law: "It reflects prevailing views in society and penalises behaviour that conflicts with those views. Given the current social opinion on the importance of climate, nature and the environment, the absence of penalties for serious environmental damage is no longer justified."

"Better than only punishing environmental damage", he continues, "is preventing future ecocide. Current environmental legislation does not do that sufficiently, while the severity of the biodiversity, climate and pollution crisis is increasing."

The proposal is currently subject to public consultation. In this way, concerned citizens can be involved in this bill, by offering possible new information and suggestions. After four weeks of consultations, the online input will be assimilated and the proposal will be submitted to the Council of State, that will offer its advisory opinion. For the bill to become law, it needs to be approved by Parliament. After the summer, there will be a plenary debate about it.

Jojo Mehta, co-Founder and Executive Director of Stop Ecocide International, sees a growing momentum: "The last few weeks have seen bills to criminalise Ecocide proposed in Brazil, Scotland and now the Netherlands. Leaders around the world are beginning to wake-up to the importance of granting legal protection to our environment and are joining a global movement to criminalise Ecocide. It is only a matter of time until recognition of ecocide is accepted as a necessary legislative step both by a critical mass of nation states, and at the International Criminal Court. The momentum we're seeing is keeping ecocide high up the global agenda, and well it should."