On February 8, Italy has made protecting the environment part of its constitution in a landmark vote.
The Italian parliament approved a new law mandating that the state must safeguard the environment, biodiversity and natural ecosystems “in the interest of future generations.” According to the approved changes to the constitution, the private industry and private economic initiatives must not damage health and the environment. Animal protection have been built into the constitution as well.
Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani called the bill “an essential step” for Italy, as Rome moves to raise green investments to transform the economy under the European Union’s post-coronavirus pandemic recovery fund.
While it was not immediately clear what the judicial repercussions of the new law would be, the Italian branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said it now expected parliament to adapt existing legislation on environmental issues.
“Finally, environment protection has become a fundamental principle of the republic, which future legislation must be inspired by and past legislation adapted to,” Italian WWF president Donatella Bianchi said in a statement.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European commissioner for the environment also called it a “major step” on Twitter.
This is a major step Italy!
By choosing to protect the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems through your Constitution, you are choosing to protect future generations!
Congratulazioni per questa decisione fondamentale! https://t.co/sc2WHBnoG5
— Virginijus Sinkevičius (@VSinkevicius) February 8, 2022
Italy is home to many natural wonders, from mountainous range to spanning great lakes, many of which have been facing increasing threats because of commercialisation and urban development. In August 2021, Italian authorities banned all large cruise ships from entering the Venice city centre to safeguard the Venetian lagoon and prevent further pollution. Though environmentalists have criticised the state for having not done enough to protect the environment, for now they hail the constitutional amendment to be an “important first step” and urges greater action and update existing legislation on environmental issues.