Benefits of an Ecocide Law

Benefits of an Ecocide Law

Jojo Mehta

Co-founder: Stop Ecocide

How do you create a definition for ecocide that is dynamic, intuitive and supports current legislation? Join Jojo Mehta as she explains how a definition for ecocide was created and what it will accomplish.

How do you create a definition for ecocide that is dynamic, intuitive and supports current legislation? Join Jojo Mehta as she explains how a definition for ecocide was created and what it will accomplish.

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Benefits of an Ecocide Law

10 mins 50 secs

Overview

Stop Ecocide International was approached by Swedish parliamentarians asking if they could create a draft definition for ecocide that would be concise, effective and politically practical. Stop Ecocide International created a definition with 12 top experts that is based on consequences, reinforced existing laws and outlined clear thresholds that must be met. When passed, this law will create an atmosphere and attitude of caution, as well as closer attention to supply chain behaviours for key decision makers. Investors and insurers could start assessing where the safest places are to put their money and what to avoid underwriting. Ecocide law compliant will become a byword for climate-safe and nature-safe.

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand how a working definition of ecocide was created

  • Outline what an ecocide law will accomplish

  • Identify supporters of an ecocide law

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Summary
How was a working definition of ecocide created? 
Stop Ecocide International was approached by Swedish parliamentarians who asked if they could commission a draft text that would be concise, effective and politically practical. An independent expert panel of 12 top lawyers from around the world with various legal specialisms and ideological standpoints. 

What are the notable aspects of the ecocide definition?
1. It is based on consequences, such as the result or threatened result of the act, not on a list of the type of acts. This means it doesn’t target any specific industry but refers to the severity of actual or threatened harm, remaining dynamic over time. 

2. It strongly reinforces existing laws. A board of directors would approach its regulatory obligations, knowing that if it failed to fulfil them and threatened ecocide as a result, its members could be in criminal law territory. This will be a huge step for accountability and will change decision-making in a very positive way.

3. There are two thresholds that must be met for the crime. Firstly, the harm, or threatened harm, must be severe and either widespread or long-term. Secondly, that the act must be “unlawful or wanton”. This is important as it means the crime will not cut across existing laws which vary between jurisdictions, but will support them. As regulation improves, so will this definition. 

What will an ecocide law accomplish? 
Nothing spurs creativity better than a clear set of parameters. An outer-boundary framework is a gift to anyone wanting to take action on sustainability because it will level the playing field. For key decision makers, knowing crossing boundaries could carry severe penalties will create an atmosphere and attitude of caution, as well as closer attention to supply chain behaviours. Investors and insurers will now start assessing where the safest places are to put their money and what to avoid underwriting. Ecocide law compliant will become a byword for climate-safe and nature-safe.

Who has shown support for an ecocide law?
Nationally, Belgium is in the final stages of including it in its own domestic penal code and ecocide bills have now been put forward in the parliaments of Brazil, the Netherlands, Spain, Mexico and Italy. Internationally, support for establishing this crime has also been logged by: 
– the Inter-Parliamentary Union of 179 parliaments
– the Council of Europe consisting of 46 states
– the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe consisting of 57 states
– the European Union consisting of 27 states, which is in the process of discussing inclusion of ecocide-level crimes into EU law (as of September 2023)

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Jojo Mehta

Jojo Mehta

Jojo Mehta, co-founder of Stop Ecocide, has overseen the movement's growth since its inception in 2017. The organisation aims to recognise "ecocide" as a crime at the International Criminal Court. Jojo is also the Chair of the Stop Ecocide Foundation and convenor of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide. The movement has gathered collaboration from various stakeholders, including diplomats, politicians, lawyers, academics, corporate influencers, indigenous and faith leaders, NGOs, and grassroots campaigns. Legal recognition of ecocide is seen as a key solution to the climate and ecological crisis

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