Environmental protection enshrined in the Constitution: what developments?

The environmental issue and climate need are as much at the center of public debate as ever. Recent weather disasters have drawn public interest to the role that environmental defense plays in ensuring a sustainable way of life for society as a whole.

Feb. 8, 2022, will be remembered for the fact that the Italian Parliament approved, with 468 votes in favor, the proposed law providing for the protection of the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems in the Constitution of the Italian Republic.

The norms in defense of the environment in the Constitution

The new version of Article 9 of the Constitution now reads, “The Republic promotes the development of culture and scientific and technical research. It protects the landscape and the historical and artistic heritage of the Nation. It protects the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, including in the interest of future generations. State law regulates the ways and forms of animal protection.”

Article 41, on the other hand, is now amended to read, “Private economic initiative is free. It may not be carried out contrary to social utility or in such a way as to be detrimental to security, freedom, human dignity, health, and the environment. The law shall determine the appropriate programs and controls so that public and private economic activity may be directed and coordinated for social and environmental purposes.”

Originally, the Constitution did not include provisions expressly aimed at defending the environment, ecosystems and biodiversity. Jurisprudence, however, has long sought to vest the concepts of environmental defense with constitutional importance through reference to specific provisions of Law.

The amendment to Article 41 makes health and the environment aspects to be protected by the economy, from the same importance as freedom, security and human dignity. This article therefore introduces the orientation of public and private initiative, which must also be aimed at environmental purposes. Amendments to Article 9 now include principles for the Republic to protect ecosystems, the environment and biodiversity, and animals.

Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani’s comment on the development, “I think it is a momentous day. It is only right that the protection of the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems should become a founding value of our Republic; it is an essential step for a country like Italy that is facing its own ecological transition.”

We believe that an incentive of the perceived importance of recycling collection may also result from the introduction of the principle of environmental advocacy.
Separate collection is as necessary a practice as ever to increase the amount of recycled material that does not impact the environment and allows raw materials to be obtained to meet the production needs of industries.
This comes through increased overall awareness of the importance of these activities so that as many people as possible try their hand at them, thereby increasing the volume of paper, plastic, glass and other recycled materials.

The environment defended by the Constitution: what developments?

These amendments to Articles 9 and 41 of the Constitution go beyond merely formally recognizing the importance of the environment on par with other values such as safety. These are principles that from today take on a cogent value for all decision-making processes similarly inspired by constitutional principles.

Henceforth, therefore, industrial initiatives must also take into account respect for the environment, otherwise they would be unconstitutional. The Constitution on the other hand will thus provide additional direction for legislating and interpreting regulations, as well as directing the subsequent development of state decisions.

This innovation introduces a scenario that sees a redefinition of the role of the Authority and the market in environmental impact, in line with the orientation of today’s European policies.
Not for nothing is the Next Generation Eu, the more than 700 million euro plan to rebuild post-Covid-19 Europe by promoting a greener economy.
probably the doctrine with the passage of time will accentuate this green soul, and the new generations will support the judicial protection of animals and biodiversity, with consequent interest also on the part of Italian business to adopt production choices more in line with the needs of the environment, so as not to go against public opinion and political forces attentive to these needs.

Francesco Miceli, president of the National Council of Architects, Planners, Landscape Architects and Conservators, reports that: “The immediate effectiveness of the constitutional law amending the Charter, thanks to its approval by a very large majority, immediately opens a new phase, in which all initiatives aimed at achieving the goal of ecological transition can be strengthened. All this represents a great opportunity for our country.”