The protection of animals and the environment recognised by the Italian Constitution

Simone Montuschi

It’s official: animals and the environment have become part of the fundamental principles of the Italian Republic. This change reopens the possibility of questioning the most antiquated legislation.

The constitutional bill was approved yesterday and now includes the protection of animals and the environment among the fundamental principles of our Constitution.

With this vote, the following paragraph will be added to Article 9 of the Constitution: “[The Republic] Protects the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, also in the interest of future generations. The law of the State governs the methods and forms of animal protection».

This result took its first steps last year but comes after years of battles with other organisations. In fact, in the first months of 2021 the Senate’s Constitutional Affairs Commission examined and put together a series of bills to include these protections in the Constitution, managing to reach an agreement with all the political forces.

Our contribution

In February 2021 together with other animal rights organisations active in Italy, we sent an appeal addressed to Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the Government and Parliament, asking not to miss the opportunity for a historical change.

This is an important result, which allows Italy to align with other countries that have already included animal protection in their Constitution. However, this initiative appears only partial compared to the first proposals which demanded the recognition of all animals as “sentient beings”, as already provided for in the Lisbon Treaty.

What happens now?

The proposal received a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the Chamber and therefore the legislative process is concluded. For the official status, only the formal passages of the signature of the Head of State and the publication in the Official Gazette are missing, which will arrive soon.

Although partly symbolic, this recognition allows us to change our regulations and make legal protection for animals more effective. This change reopens the possibility of questioning the most antiquated legislation that is no longer in line with the sensitivity of citizens and will allow us to continue our work with one more tool. But we won’t stop there: the next step is their recognition of animals as sentient beings.