What is Environmental Law?

What Does Environmental law Mean

Environmental law or law of nature is the branch of public law that studies the relationships between human beings and nature, in order to create and understand the legal norms that preserve and protect the environment from harmful activities resulting from the industrial and human activity.



Stated in simplest terms, is a branch of law that is responsible for the ecological regulation of human activities , with the task of promoting a model of civilization that does not threaten the continued existence of life on the planet , nor nor does it drastically and irreversibly impoverish it.

It is a very recent branch of law, which has a notorious multidisciplinary character, since it involves the expertise of professionals from many different fields, such as biology , medicine, ecology , physics , chemistry , etc. It requires a constant update of its perspectives, due to the current rapid scientific-technological changes .

Environmental law emerged as an independent discipline in 1972, at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment , held in Stockholm.

Before reaching that decision, during the twentieth century the harmful impact that industrial activity can have on the environment became evident in different ways , affecting both the human species and many others. This was demonstrated after the tragedies of Bophal, Seveso or Chernobyl, for example.

It can help you: Conservation of the environment

Principles of environmental law

Environmental law pursues the following fundamental objectives:

  • Avoid pollution of the environment as much as possible, as well as harmful interventions on the part of the human being.
  • Have the rules and measures that punish environmental crime and promote a culture that is respectful of life and the ecosystem .
  • Make the appropriate decisions to deal in the best possible way with the pollution already present in numerous ecosystems, or with the damages already caused by industrial activity.
  • Debating posture more appropriate than in the field should have the States , for orchestrating global development so sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Sources of environmental law

Environmental law understands as its sources :

  • The National Constitution and jurisprudence . That is to say, the positive set of norms that regulate in a given nation the ecological and environmental matter, as well as the norms and decisions emanating from the competent legal authorities.
  • The professional doctrine on the matter. In other words, the scientific knowledge and content that specialists in the field offer regarding environmental conservation.
  • International treaties. Signed by the nation in question, which establishes, together with other countries, a set of ecological standards and objectives to be achieved, since environmental damage is not, in the long run, focused, but rather affects the entire planet.

Importance of environmental law

Environmental law can encourage the exploitation of inexhaustible resources.

Today every nation in the world has in its constitution some type of regulation and foundations of environmental law, which also serve when collaborating with international organizations for the defense of the environment.

In this way, countries have the ability to legally control the way their natural resources are exploited , and protect biodiversity , that precious asset of our planet that seems to diminish a little more every day.

International environmental law

Environmental law is increasingly emerging as a need not only local, but also regional and international, as the effects of irresponsible industrialization cause damage to the environment that affect the entire globe , since ecosystems are all interconnected.

For this reason, environmental legal defense organizations with international jurisdiction have emerged , such as the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), which acts as an authorized defender of the environment in all cases in which there is legal litigation, and also as a promoter of environmental law in each of the countries that make up the UN .

Environmental law in Mexico

Since the Constituent Assembly of 1917, the legal defense of the environment in Mexico has been an important factor. For this , the issue of natural resources was incorporated into article 27 of the Constitution , which enshrined the principle of the social function of property.

In addition, in 1987 the reform of article 73 achieved that environmental issues are not regulated as mere public health issues , issuing the Federal Law to Prevent and Control Environmental Pollution. Thus, greater punitive weight was given to the Federal Environmental Protection Law. The environmental issue is of particular interest in Mexico.

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