REVIEW OF THE FRENCH NATURE CONGRESS 2018

The French IUCN Committee organized its French Nature Congress on 7 June 2018.

UICN Comite Francais

The French IUCN Committee organized its French Nature Congress on 7 June 2018. It aimed to launch a broad mobilization of biodiversity issues in the context of two major international events held in 2020: the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille and the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Beijing.

During the day, many personalities of the network of the French IUCN Committee emphasized the goals of these two events and discussed potential actions and mobilization efforts to put the goals in motion.

The Chairpersons of the Commissions and Working Groups of the French IUCN Committee set out the priority topics currently identified within the network to contribute to the World Congress. The room then discussed the ideas.

 

The President of the French Commission of Environmental Law and Environmental Policy, Sébastien Mabile, based on the contributions of experts, expressed the following ideas:

Prohibition of phytosanitary products

  • It would be a matter of generalizing the initiative voted in 2014 (Act called Labbé of 6 February 2014 to better regulate the use of plant protection products on the national territory)
  • Motion for a resolution to the European Commission - work initiated with different countries.
  • Could this measure be extended internationally through an international convention? In any case, it concerns only the non-professionals.
  • The aim would be to launch a debate on the effects of pesticides in the least developed countries so far not very aware of the dangers.

Legal status of nature

  • A reflection on the legal status of nature and the possibility of conferring legal personality on some of its elements (rivers, forests, animals, etc.) is under way at the international level. Ecuador was the first state in the world to integrate the "rights of nature" into its constitution. On 5 April the Supreme Court of Colombia recognized the Amazon as a subject of law.

Principle of ecological negotiation

  • Universal Convention on the law of impact studies (text unifying the impact studies) and principle of ecological negotiation (aims at rebalancing the balance of power between the different project promoters)
  • The global right is a right of negotiation between actors, but with climate change and the planet's ecological stakes (loss of biodiversity), it becomes necessary to find a legal framework for global law, which is essentially evolving in a sphere without sovereignty.
  • Ecological negotiation presupposes a balance in the balance of power between industry, local actors, and nature experts, and a revision of the vocabulary used during the negotiations on project installation involving damage to biodiversity. The vocabulary used is mainly from economic and financial circles which unbalances the understanding and respect of ecological issues. Recently, IPBES proposed a reflection on the evolution of the terms "eco-systemic services" to favor a "nature's contribution to people" approach.
  • In addition, the mercantile approach and vocabulary used in the negotiations of projects impacting biodiversity define nature as the "object" of negotiations (nature is considered as one thing), but the latest case law, in particular that of the Supreme Court of Bogotá (5 April 2018) and the Constitution of Ecuador and other developing countries consider Nature as having a legal personality and not as a thing (here we also note the importance of the role of the judge in a globalized context) .
  • At a time of globalization of the law and impact assessments, it would be necessary to put in place a principle of ecological negotiation.

Environmental civil liability and climate justice

  • The remedies for environmental damage, particularly those resulting from diffuse pollution, sometimes run up against the principles of civil liability and the requirement to demonstrate a direct causal link between the damage and the damage alleged, or at least serious and consistent presumptions. However, this demonstration is sometimes difficult to establish. There is a need to fully implement the polluter pays principle.
  • Certain activities (nuclear, maritime and air transport, etc.) are subject to an international civil liability regime, providing for objective, channeled, and capped liability.
  • A reflection could be initiated to extend these principles to all environmental damage, including those resulting from climate change.
  • For example on climate justice: importance at the international level that judges take over (Netherlands, Uganda, etc.)

Integration of biodiversity in country constitutions or their charters

  • This proposal aims to support the integration of the fundamental principles of environmental law in the constitutions of States, as well as the draft Global Pact for the environment, which incorporates in a binding international text the universal principles of environmental law.

Environmental law education

  • Raise awareness of the right to all citizens

Biodiversity tax status

  • See if protected or threatened biodiversity should not have a special tax status
  • Take the role of culture as an example 
  • International conventions speak little of taxation because it is part of State sovereignty. There are some exceptions, such as tariffs. One could imagine that given the magnitude of the issue, there could be an exception.
  • Tax status and tax level of biodiversity: to make it an incentive tool

Strengthening protection in the Mediterranean

  • A motion calling on each of the riparian countries to adopt and implement a coastal law inspired by the French
  • Motion calling on the secretariats of major international conventions to include provisions encouraging the parties to adopt tax provisions favorable to the protection and management of environments, zones and species they conserve (Ramsar, Barcelona, ​​other regional seas, Alpine, Bonn, Bern, etc.).

Mobilizing communities

  • Integrating local communities into IUCN governance 
  • Funding and resources of local and regional authorities: an international panorama, limiting levers on the BP on taxation, studying how other regions in the world finance biodiversity
  • Binding communities in different mechanisms for biodiversity

Mobilizing companies

  • International roll-out of the Act4nature initiative

The themes presented above will be discussed, notably during the next Board meeting of the French IUCN Committee in September.

Author

Florence Clap, In charge of the 'Politics and Biodiversity' Program, IUCN French Committee, International Union for the Conservation of Nature

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