Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kenya adds the right to enjoy nature to its constitution

Editor's note: Thanks to Ben from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, who corrected the original headline to this post.

In this post on Alternet.org, Jay Walljasper notes that Kenya has joined Ecuador in defending environmental viability in its new constitution.

The document's Article 42 says that "Every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures." Article 69 encourages public participation in environmental management and protection, protects indigenous knowledge, establishes environmental assessment systems, and mandates government protection for tree cover.

And, Walljasper notes, what Kenya and Ecuador have done challenges the prevailing "first world" view that "all significant environmental progress begins in wealthy nations, which then shoulder the noble task of aiding and arm-twisting poor nations to do their share in taking care of the planet." In fact, the opposite is just as likely true: "Loking at per capita rates of greenhouse and toxic emissions, you might think ... the overdeveloped nations of the world need to follow the example of their poor neighbors to the south, which dump far fewer pollutants into the global commons."

While "it is easier for a poor nation to implement such rights than to enforce them... Ecuador’s and Kenya’s actions are more than symbolic. They show the possibilities for making environmental protection part of the bedrock of our legal systems." In fact, Walljasper quotes Burns Weston, Senior Research Scholar at the Vermont Law School, who suggests that Kenya’s new constitution might be a model for U.S. states "to improve their state constitutions along these lines."

1 comment:

Ben said...

It's NOT rights of nature: its' human rights to enjoy nature. -- Ben Price, CELDF

Article 42, “Every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right—a) to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures.”