Article by Katie Surma. Feature image by Paul Horn / Inside Climate News

SIENA, Italy—The rights of nature movement has celebrated its first European victory as Spain enshrined into national law the rights of the Mar Menor lagoon to exist and be protected and preserved. 

Mar Menor, Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, has suffered from massive die-offs of aquatic life in recent years brought on by pollution from agriculture, sewage and other development. 

In 2020, Eduardo Salazar, a Spanish environmental lawyer, and Teresa Vicente Gimenez, a professor of philosophy of law at Murcia University, began a quest for legislative recognition of Mar Menor’s rights, the highest form of protection under the law, with a “popular legislative initiative,” a participatory democratic mechanism in Spain’s constitution. Salazar called the existing conventional environmental laws intended to protect the lake “useless.”

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