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ECI PROJECT SUMMARY - A EUROPEAN CITIZENS INITIATIVE FOR THE RIGHTS OF NATURE

Draft: Dec 2016 MI (Mumta Ito)

PROJECT VISION

Humanity flourishing in harmony with Nature.

PROJECT MISSION

To establish nature’s rights - legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species - in law throughout Europe.

PROJECT AIM

To launch a European Citizens Initiative (“ECI”) to propose nature’s rights to the legislative agenda of the EU - see our Draft Directive.

WHY THIS INITIATIVE?

Ecosystems and other species are alive. Yet the law treats them as objects separate to us. This has wide reaching social and economic consequences that drive the environmental crisis. Rights of nature is a game changing solution that brings fundamental and systemic transformation to our legal and economic system by re-characterising nature - ecosystems and species - as a subject of the law with legal personality and tangible rights that can be defended in court by people. This ensures that economic activity operates to enhance rather than undermine the resilience of ecosystems so that humanity can thrive in harmony with nature. It forms a powerful counterbalance to corporate rights and a viable alternative to the financialisation of nature.  To find out more see this article - Rights of Nature - Why Do We Need It? and our TEDx Talk.

WHAT WILL THIS ACHIEVE?

The Initiative will call on the European Commission to make a legislative proposal to incorporate nature’s rights into EU law - if successful, the ECI will therefore put rights of nature on the EU agenda.  This then goes through the normal legislative process. If it results in legislation being passed (eg. a Directive) all the EU member states would be required to implement it in national legislation. This would significantly evolve environmental legislation in Europe and set a positive example for the rest of the world to follow.

The Initiative will also serve to increase awareness in the general public as well as the EU institutions and NGOs about the failings of our legal and economic framework and the law and policy shifts that are necessary in order to successfully meet the present and long term challenges of our time. It will also serve as a platform to launch the visibility of this proposal and gain supporters within the EU institutions, general public and NGOs. Adopting nature’s rights in law and policy would create the proper legal framework to enable true sustainability in harmony with nature to happen in a way that enhances the resilience of the whole - for the benefit of present and future generations.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS?

 

The formal steps for launching the ECI are set out in the official ECI Guide - You Can Set the Agenda - and summarised briefly as follows:

 

1.        Formation of a Citizens Committee comprising of at least 7 EU citizens residing in 7 different member states (the names of 7 members of this committee will go on the application to the European Commission as being responsible for the Initiative. From this group one will be appointed as the “representative” who will act as the point of contact for the European Commission).

2.        Verification of the proposed online collection and storage system for statements of support by the competent authority.

3.        Submission of the application to the European Commission with the proposed draft legislation.

4.        Collection of statements of support after European Commission confirms acceptance of the initiative as complying with the rules (1million statements in the prescribed format across the EU which must include 0.01% of the populations of 7 member states).

5.        Verification of the validity of the statements of support by the competent authorities in each member state.

6.        If successful, Citizens Committee presents the initiative to the European Commission and a hearing is conducted with the EU Parliament to consider the proposal.

7.        European Commission responds within 3 months as to what action it proposes to take.

8.        If a legislative proposal is made it is presented to the EU Parliament to go through the usual legislative process.

 

NB - There is no limit to the number of times the same initiative can be brought. There are also national, regional and local initiatives that can be brought in 18 member states to increase awareness and support.

SELF ORGANISED ECI

Due to the practical difficulties in running an official ECI (see here for comprehensive analysis of the ECI instrument with case studies) - there is the alternative option to simply petition the EU Parliament and call it a “Self Organised ECI” (eg. Stop TTIP did this last year when the Commission refused to register their initiative) - see here. This will still serve our purpose of agenda setting and there are less technical barriers to campaigning. Instead of proposing directly to the Commission whose role it is to propose legislation, we will be proposing to the Parliament and asking them to propose to the Commission. In either case it will be necessary to get the other institutions on board, especially the Council as they are the key decision-makers (often it is said that the Commission are the “secretariat” of the Council). Also they will consult other stakeholders and NGOs hence the need to get NGOs on board too, especially the G10 (Green 10).

FACTORS TO CONSIDER

 

HOW THE EU MAKES DECISIONS

To find out more please see the following 3 minute video produced by the Commission that appears half way down this page.

EU COMPETENCY RULES

Here are the rules on competency from the ECI website. We have researched competency and believe our initiative falls within the Commission’s legislative powers.

WHICH COUNTRIES TO TARGET? (ESPECIALLY RELEVANT FOR FORMAL ECI)

 

There are several ways of approaching which countries to target:

 

  1.  Population - we need to gather a minimum number of signatures in 7 countries as well as 1m signatures in total. The number of signatures for each country is set out in the ECI Guide above. The countries with the least signatories are:

  1. Number of MEPs - This is the full list of current  MEPs http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/full-list.html.

 

  1. Info required for verification - ie. Ease of getting online statements of support.

 

  1. Environmental awareness

 

  1. National/Regional Initiatives:  These countries also have national and regional citizens initiatives that can be run to propose rights of nature locally. We have researched and prepared a guide on how to run the official citizens initiatives in each of these countries - we can encourage people to start these initiatives to create a snowball effect:

 STRATEGY

PHASE 1 (NOW COMPLETE)

PHASE  2 (FROM JAN 2017)

PHASE 3 (TO START AT END OF PHASE 2 AND END 1 YEAR FROM THEN)

 

PHASE 4 (6 MONTHS - TO START FROM END OF PHASE 3)

 

PROJECT DURATION FROM PHASE 2  - 2 Years

Contact

To get involved -  please contact Mumta Ito at mumta@rightsofnature.eu