Share |
Popular Title:  RECOGNIZES THE RIGHTS OF NATURE AND THE RELATED OBLIGATIONS OF THE STATE WITH THESE RIGHTS Primary Citation:  Ley 287 de 2022 Country of Origin:  Panama Last Checked:  May, 2023 Date Adopted:  2022 Historical: 
Summary: Law 287, 2022 is the Panama's law that recognizes the Rights of Nature and the State's related obligations with such rights.
Documents:  PDF icon Panama-RoN-Ley-287-2022-Spanish.pdf (5.32 MB)

Republic of Panama 

N° 29484-A

Law 287 of 2022

[English translation from Spanish]
Law N° 287

Thursday, February 24, 2022


Chapter I

General Provisions

Article 1. This law seeks to recognize Nature as a subject of rights, as well as the obligations of the State, and all persons, whether natural or legal, to guarantee the respect and protection of these rights.

The State must ensure, through its legal system, public policies, and programs, the sustainable use of the environmental benefits of Nature, the prevention and control of factors of environmental deterioration, the imposition of sanctions, and restoration for the damage caused.

In addition, it will promote citizen and business participation and responsibility in the matter, as well as access to information and justice in environmental matters.

Article 2. For purposes of the application of this law, the following terms and concepts are understood as follows:

  1. Environment. Cluster or system of natural and artificial elements of physical, chemical, biological, or sociocultural nature in constant interaction and in permanent modification by human or natural action, which governs and shapes life's existence and development in its multiple manifestations.
  2. Regenerative Capacity. Nature's capability to recover after suffering an alteration and, in turn, ensure the sustainability of its resources over time.
  3. Vital cycles. Natural processes that recycle elements in different chemical forms from the environment to organisms and vice versa.
  4. Conservation. Set of human activities whose purpose is to guarantee the sustainable use of the environment, including measures for the preservation, maintenance, rehabilitation, restoration, management, and improvement of the natural resources of the environment.
  5. Contamination. Presence in the environment of any chemical substance, objects, particles, microorganisms, a form of energy, or urban or rural landscape components, due to human action at levels or proportions that negatively alter the environment and/or threaten human or animal health or plant or ecosystems.
  6. Cosmovision. Way of understanding and interpreting the relationship between human beings and Nature.
  7. Biological diversity or biodiversity. Variability of living organisms from any source, including but not limited to terrestrial and marine ecosystems, found within species, between species, and between ecosystems.
  8. Ecosystem. The dynamic complex of plant, animal, fungal, and microbial communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit.
  9. Diffuse interest. An interest that is disseminated in a community, corresponding to each of its members, and does not originate from property titles, rights, or specific actions.
  10. Indigenous peoples. Distinct social and cultural groups who share ancestral ties to the land and natural resources on which they live, on which they depend, and which are closely linked to their identity, culture, and livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being.
  11. Environmental risk. Power of action of any nature that, due to its location, characteristics, and effects, creates the possibility of causing damage to the environment or ecosystems.
  12. Sustainability. Meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs, ensuring a balance between economic growth, care for the environment, and social well-being.

Article 3. The State must respect Nature in its existence in an integral way for its intrinsic value and the enjoyment of present and future generations. For the purposes of this Law, Nature is a collective, indivisible, and self-regulated entity made up of its elements, biodiversity, and interrelated ecosystems.

Article 4. The right of every person to a healthy environment in harmony with Nature for development, health, and well-being is recognized, as well as their close link with the rights of Nature recognized in this law.

Article 5. Every natural or legal person, individually or in legal association, has active legitimation, by virtue of the diffuse interest that Nature represents, to demand respect and fulfillment of the rights and obligations established in this law before administrative and legal instances at the national level.

Article 6. Nature will enjoy the protection and respect of the State. Citizens must notify the competent law authorities when they become aware of possible actions or events that may generate risk or environmental damage in order to ensure the existence, restoration, maintenance, and regeneration of their life cycles, as well as the conservation of their ecological structures and functions.

Article 7. The State will ensure the application of all administrative, legal, and/or technical measures, among others, necessary to prevent and restrict the effects of human activities that may contribute to species extinction, the destruction of ecosystems, or the permanent alteration of natural cycles and the climate, including, but not limited to, the unsustainable extraction of natural resources, unsustainable fishing and to the detriment of threatened or endangered species, the emission of greenhouse gases, deforestation and other human activities that affect Nature.

Article 8. The following principles will govern this law:

  1. The superior interest of Nature: is the special protection of the fundamental rights of Nature, based on its intrinsic value, due to its vulnerability to human activities that can alter its ecological and vital cycles.
  2. In dubio pro natura: with the purpose of protecting Nature, when it is in a situation of vulnerability in the face of any conflict or controversy, the interpretation that applies the broadest and most favorable sense to safeguard and guarantee the rights of Nature must always prevail, as well as the preservation of the environment. In case of doubt, legal loopholes, or contradiction in decision-making must be resolved by giving preference to alternatives less harmful to Nature.
  3. In dubio pro aqua: Consistent with the principle of in dubio pro natura, in case of uncertainty, environmental and water disputes before the jurisdictional and administrative bodies must be resolved, and the applicable laws interpreted, in a manner in which water resources and related ecosystems are, to the greatest extent, protected and preserved.
  4. Prevention: In the face of imminent risk or danger, necessary prevention, evaluation, monitoring, and control measures will be taken to prevent violation of the rights of Nature. If, as a result of the evaluation of the authorities, it is determined that there will be a significant violation of the rights of Nature, these may be protected through the precautionary principle, in the cases in which it corresponds.
  5. Precaution: When the danger of loss, damage, or significant impact on Nature exists, even though there is no complete evidence or scientific certainty of it, this should not be used as a reason to postpone the adoption of protective, effective, and timely measures for the protection of the rights of Nature.
  6. Restoration: The State will guarantee that when Nature has been affected, it can be fully restored in order to rehabilitate its functionality and recover its evolutionary process, structure, and functions integrally. The preceding, without prejudice to the right of repetition of the State against those responsible for the damage caused. The cosmovision and ancestral knowledge of the country's indigenous peoples must be an integral part of the interpretation and application of the rights of Nature.

Article 9. The State will allocate the economic resources necessary to guarantee the full implementation and fulfillment of the rights and obligations contained in this law, recognizing that the correct investment of these economic resources generates direct and indirect benefits for the health and well-being of the population.

Chapter II

Rights of Nature

Article 10. The State recognizes the following rights of Nature, which extend to all living beings, elements, and ecosystems that comprise it:

  1. Right to exist, persist and regenerate their vital cycles.
  2. Right to the diversity of the life of the beings, elements, and ecosystems that compose it.
  3. Right to the preservation of the water cycle's functionality and its existence in the quantity and quality necessary to sustain life systems.
  4. Right to the preservation of the quality and composition of the air for the support of life systems and its protection against pollution.
  5. Right to the timely and effective restoration of life systems affected by human activities directly or indirectly.
  6. Right to exist free from contamination of any of its components and from toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities.

Nature has the right to live, exist and persist under its own framework of balanced development where each part of the interconnected process that keeps it alive, be it its biological diversity or its components, can fulfill its function within it.

Article 11. Nature has the right to regenerate its vital cycles, taking into account its preservation and regeneration capacities, in such a way that the integral development and maintenance of its natural cycles and the evolution of ecosystems are not unbalanced.

Article 12. Nature has the right to conserve its biodiversity. Its living beings must be protected by law, regardless of the utilitarian value they represent to human beings.

Article 13. The State will authorize the sustainable use of the elements that make up Nature within the sustainability framework and respect for the rights contemplated in the current legal system.

The State will ensure compliance with all environmental principles and standards in granting permits and licenses.

Article 14. Nature has the right to be restored after being directly or indirectly affected by any human activity. This right must be guaranteed by the State, regardless of the fact that it may subsequently sue the natural or legal person causing the damage.

Article 15. Matters relating to the regulation of biotechnology and genetic modifications shall be governed by the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity, approved by Panama through Law 2 of 1995, Law 72 of 2001 and Law 57 of 2012, respectively.

Article 16. The State, through all its institutions, has the following obligations emanating from the rights recognized in this Law:

  1. Ensure that all its plans, policies, and programs are consistent with the rights and obligations recognized in this law.
  2. Promote the full application and fulfillment of the rights and obligations recognized in this law.
  3. Ensure the population's participation, with special attention to groups in situations of vulnerability, in developing and implementing policies, plans, and programs to guarantee respect for the rights of Nature.
  4. Develop forms of production and balanced consumption patterns to satisfy the population's needs, safeguarding the regenerative capacities and integrity of Nature's vital cycles, processes, and balances.
  5. Develop energy policies to ensure, in the long term, increased efficiency and the incorporation of clean and renewable alternative sources in the energy matrix.
  6. Incorporate the teaching of the rights of nature into environmental education programs.
  7. Promote the recognition and defense of the rights of nature in multilateral, regional, and bilateral spheres of international relations.

Chapter III

Final Provisions

Article 17. The executive body shall regulate this law.

Article 18. This law will take effect one year after its enactment.

Communicate and comply.

Project 471 of 2020 was approved in the third debate in the Legislative Palace of Panama, Panama City, on the twenty-fifth day of the month of October of the year two thousand and twenty-one.

Share |