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Is Italy On The Right Track to Preserving The Environment?

The issue of climate change and environmental awareness has grown increasingly prominent in Western countries' debates, particularly in Italy. The Chamber of Deputies recently enacted a constitutional change that makes environmental, biodiversity, and ecosystem protection an intrinsic aspect of the constitutional framework - following years of parliamentary deliberation. The Chamber of Deputies formally accepted on February 8, 2022, a draft bill on constitutional revision that had already been passed by the Senate (with double discussions in a second deliberation with a two-thirds majority of its members). The DDL's parliamentary procedure is then completed, and the text will be published in the Official Journal after being promulgated by the President of the Republic.

In a nutshell, art. 9 has a new paragraph that, in its current form, refers to landscape, historical and artistic heritage without specifically referencing the environment. The revision stipulates "conservation of the environment, biodiversity, and ecosystems, including in the interests of future generations" as one of the Constitutional Charter's essential values. In addition, the legislator is referred to establish ways and means of animal protection. Finally, in the case of private initiative, the current regulation (Art. 41 Cost.) is completed with the requirement that no activity should be conducted in a manner that is harmful to either human health or the environment.

The Italian Chamber of Deputies in the debate [Photo] - Euronews
The Italian Chamber of Deputies in the debate [Photo] - Euronews

The bill that was passed calls for a constitutional amendment, and only a statute adopted by each Chamber, with two consecutive deliberations at intervals of not less than three months, can bring about such change. Then, in the second vote, an absolute majority of the members of each Chamber is required (art. 138 c. 1 Cost.). At the matter, the Senate passed a reform on June 9, 2021, and the Chamber passed on another on October 12, 2021; the Senate passed, again, on November 3, 2021, followed by the latter, on February 8, 2022. As a result, the draft for the constitutional change was implemented with no need for a referendum. The bill was divided into three sections: the first adds a new paragraph to Art. 9 Cost; the second adds a new paragraph to Art. 9 Cost; and the last adds a new paragraph to Art. 9 Cost. The second amends the expense of art. 41, while the third adds a safeguard clause for the application of the animal protection principle.

The draft bill is to amend two articles of the Constitution, the 9th and 41st. One of the fundamental principles is Art. 9 Cost, which now consists of two paragraphs. The reform adds a new paragraph declaring that the Italian Republic will foster the development of culture, science, and technology, as well as landscape and historical and artistic heritage preservation. It is also emphasized that environmental, biodiversity, and ecosystem conservation, in addition of methods and forms of animal protection, must be regulated in the interests of future generations. Instead, art. 41 Cost. is contained in title III, named "economic relations," in the section devoted to "citizens' rights and duties." The said article is currently consisted of three paragraphs, and the reform calls for the addition of some "engraved" ones, which are bolded here. To begin with, it is said that private economic initiative is unrestricted; however, it cannot be pursued in violation of societal utility or in a manner that jeopardizes public health, the environment, security, freedom, or human dignity. Finally, the law establishes the appropriate programs and controls for directing and coordinating public and private economic activity for social and environmental reasons.

Italy's vineyard extent, as well as the country's environmental legacy [Photo] - GoNexus Project