Last Tuesday, Ricardo Lorenzetti, judge of the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina, presented the Panamanian edition of his book “Environmental Law” in a virtual conference. In the dissertation, the judge exposed the main issues covered in the book and reviewed the current environmental law’s situation in the world.
In the conference, Lorenzetti spoke about the importance of “understanding that human health is closely linked to the health of nature. The environmental perspective is working on a paradigm called “One Health”, in order to think about the close relationship between human health and nature’s health”. He also mentioned the value of prevention and precaution in environmental matters, since “the majority of environmental catastrophes occur because the possible midterm consequences of an action are not taken into consideration”. He also added that “the environment is not an asset that can be easily recovered, so you always have to opt for prevention, then restoration if possible, and finally responsibility.”
Throughout his discourse, he stressed that “environmental law is not just another specialty, but an environmental view of the legal system. It is a change of perspective based on the fact that today nature itself is a scarce resource. There is a great conflict surrounding nature”. He also emphasized that “on the environment there are no individual rights, there is a legitimacy to act in defense of the environment, which is a collective right, a collective good. In Argentina we already have it included in the Civil and Commercial Code of the Nation under the tag “collective incidence”. In addition, the use of property cannot harm the environment, a concept that we have also included in the Civil Code. Hence, this has influenced the administrative regulation of property, that is to say public law”.
Lorenzetti also mentioned the role of the Judiciary in the environmental issue. “The division of powers in this matter is an important paart of the puzzle because every time a member of the Judicial Power orders compliance with an international treaty on environmental or climate change matters, this affects the budget and affects the Executive Branch. It is a complex balance that we have also developed in the book: what are the different relationship models between the Judiciary, the Congress and the Executive Power, and which are the judicial instruments, that is, the mandates indicated by one state branch to the other, what are its constitutional scope and limits, ”he said.
Then he alluded to the question of water, the importance of caring for it and the problem of accessibility. “The supply of water in the world is decreasing, due to climate change, melting ice, because there is inefficient use. Supply decreases and demand increases. The amount of water used today is very different from the use of 50 years ago, so today we have a problem of scarce resources. It is a problem in almost all countries. Not only the quantity but the quality of the water, ”he said. And he remarked that “there is a current problem that is the cost of water, the price that must be paid for it. That is why the United Nations talks about the human right to drinking water, because otherwise there will be many people who will not be able to pay.
Towards the end of the dissertation, Lorenzetti spoke about environmental responsibilities and stressed that “this generation is the first generation that has clear awareness and information about an environmental collapse. And it’s the last one that can avoid it. And avoiding an environmental collapse is neither going back to the past nor denying economic development, but rather making sustainable development. ” “Ultimately,” he said, “when you have to choose between protecting the environment or other assets, that’s where the big ethical questions are decided. Today there are many countries that have lowered environmental protection levels to promote economic development, and this is something very ethically debatable. ”
The book “Environmental Law” has been published in Argentina, Spain, Colombia, Paraguay and Panama. It will soon be published in Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Italy, France and the United States.