The rights of nature can now be defended in Panama's court system. The country has introduced new legislation that grants rivers, trees, mountains and oceans similar legal rights to people, corporations and governments.
Signed by Panama's president Laurentino Cortizo this month, the legislation defines nature as "a unique, indivisible and self-regulating community of living beings, elements and ecosystems interrelated to each other that sustains, contains and reproduces all beings".
Some of the legal rights outlined in the legislation are:
The right to exist, persist and regenerate its life cycles.
The right to conserve its biodiversity.
The right to be restored after being affected directly or indirectly by any human activity.
The legislation also introduces a new requirement for government to respect the rights of nature across its plans, policies and programs. It stipulates that manufacturing processes and energy policies must safeguard ecosystems and requires the government to promote rights of nature as part of foreign policy.
Panama joins other countries that have recognised nature's legal rights including Bolivia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico where the concept has been adopted in court, the legal system and even in the constitution.
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