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Environmental Law – Understand the concept in five points

02 de May de 2019

  1. What is Environmental Law?

Environmental Law is the legal branch that regulates the relationship of individuals, governments and companies with the environment, in order to reconcile ecological, economic and social aspects with the improvement of the environmental condition and well-being of the population. That is, Environmental Law aims to protect the environment, avoiding damages to it and thus ensure that it remains healthy for the next generations.

    2.  How did Environmental Law come about?

Environmental Law was born in the twentieth century, more specifically in the 1960s, in a context of environmental crisis. The depletion of natural resources and the negative consequences of environmental degradation and pollution have made it possible to perceive the need to limit human activity in the environment.
In addition, the role of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Environmental Law must be highlighted. Held in 1972 and also known as the Stockholm Conference – the city that hosted the event – it brought together representatives from various states to discuss environmental issues and the right to a balanced environment was declared as a fundamental right.

    3. Environmental Law in Brazil

Brazil, which emphasized its economic growth and lived under the regime of military dictatorship a period called economic miracle, participated in the United Nations Conference and stood in favor of environmentally irresponsible economic growth. This means that the country would put its economic growth above any environmental policy.

However, this position changed with the re-democratization of the country. The 1988 Constitution was innovative, it represents a milestone in Brazilian environmental legislation for giving legal protection to the environment and concern for the preservation and rational use of natural resources.

The protection of the environment was inserted in the Constitution of 1988 after pressures from national and international environmental movements, conferences and reports focused on environmental protection. In our country, these movements gained strength mainly after the fall of the military government.

In this context, it is important to emphasize that Brazil stands out when it comes to biodiversity, with the largest tropical rainforest in the world – the Amazon – and other very rich biomes. Thus, many movements ensure that environmental law is of the utmost importance here.

In Brazil, public authorities create environmental laws and environmental agencies are responsible for overseeing them. In terms of environmental laws, our country is admittedly advanced, having one of the most complete legislation in the world. However, what is lacking is the practical application of this.

  4. What are the principles of Environmental Law?

After we have seen how Environmental Law is treated in our Constitution, we can talk about the main principles that guide it:

  • Principle of Prevention
    This principle is what guides all environmental legislation and public policies focused on the environment. According to him, the best way is to do everything within reach to prevent environmental damage. This is because, when an environmental catastrophe occurs, the impacts are hardly reversed and their effects are felt by future generations.
  • Principle of Caution
    Considered as an improvement of the principle of prevention, precaution is intended to prevent any intervention in the environment if there is no certainty of possible future consequences.
  • Polluter Pays Principle
    According to this principle, if someone causes any harm to the environment, it will be responsible for the costs of repairing the damage caused by it.
  • Principle of Responsibility
    According to this principle, those responsible for environmental degradation are obliged to bear the responsibility and the costs of repairing or compensating for the damage caused.
  • Principle of Democratic
    Management This principle aims to ensure citizens the right to information and participation in the elaboration of public environmental policies.
  • Limit Principle
    It seeks to establish standards of environmental quality, always aiming at promoting sustainable development.

    5. But, finally, what is the importance of Environmental Law?

In addition to being present in our Constitution, Environmental Law is responsible for creating standards that guarantee the balance of ecological, economic and social interests and sustainable development – that is, a development capable of meeting the needs of the current generation, without compromising the capacity needs of future generations.

Source: Site Politize – Giovanna Soares

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Freitas e Bittencourt Sociedade de Advogados –
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