International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Armenia

    The Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008 introduced a new environmental regime. Art. 66 states: “The following rights of persons are recognised and guaranteed: The right to live in a healthy environment that is ecologically balanced, pollution-free and in harmony with nature.” Under the new regime, other noteworthy changes were made:

  • Nature is considered a juridical person and now a holder of rights
  • The rights of nature are inalienable and not subject to a statute of limitations
  • The State shall apply preventive and restrictive measures on activities
  • All citizens can call upon public authorities to enforce the rights of nature
  • Individuals and communities that depend on affected natural systems have the right to be compensated.

According to its Article 425, the Constitution has supremacy over all other laws, norms and regulations, both national and international.

Article 74 of the Constitution regulates environmental services to ensure that people, communities and indigenous groups have the right to benefit from the environment. It also states that “environmental services are not susceptible to appropriation; that their production, provision and use will be regulated by the National Government.” The Constitution guarantees the participation of indigenous peoples and communities in decision-making on activities to be carried out in their territories.

Featured Legislation

1999: The Environmental Management Law (Ley no. 37) was created to set out principles and guidelines for environmental policy; determine the duties, responsibilities, levels of participation in the public and private sectors in environmental management and indicate the permissible limits, controls and sanctions in this matter.

2000: The strategy for sustainable forest development in Ecuador came into effect, promoting conservation and the sustainable use of forests.

2002: The Forestry and Conservation of Natural Areas and Wildlife law “Ley forestal y de Conservacion de Areas Naturales y Vida Silvestre",Amended the 1981 legislation (Ley 74, publicada en el Registro Oficial No. 64), outlining the powers and functions of the Ministry of Environment for forests as well as the control and mobilisation of forest products.  The forestry component emphasizes forest management, production forests (native forests and plantations), forestry control and research.

2002: The National forest programme “Texto Unificado de la Legislación Ambiental Secundaria" (Unified Text of Secondary Environmental Legislation of the Ministry of Environment (TULAS)) was enacted, establishing the basic environmental policies of Ecuador. The legislation ensures coherence among public sector entities and the private sector in Ecuador in the identification and implementation of specific policies and strategies, policies and guidelines to achieve sustainable development.

2004: The Biodiversity Law (Ley de Biodiversidad) was promulgated, focusing on the protection of the biodiversity of Ecuador including genetic and ancestral resources.

2006: Executive Order 1196 renewed Executive Order No. 998 “Declaration of State of Emergency regarding the Control and Monitoring of the Ecuadorian Forest Sector" (Declara en Estado de Emergencia el Control y la Supervisión de Sector Forestal Ecuatoriano). The 2006 Order was introduced to reduce the impact of deforestation and wildlife, through integrated forest monitoring to conserve and sustainably manage the natural resources system.

2008: Executive Degree 931 assigned responsibility of industrial plantations and agroforestry to the Ministry of Agriculture.  The Degree paved the way for the implementation of the 2012 National Forestation and Reforestation Plan.

2018: The Ecuadorian Congress approved the Environmental Code. This Environmental Code overturned all previous environmental legislation and incorporated most of the environmental issues, consolidating them into one law. The Environmental Code is composed of 8 main chapters:

  1. Preliminary Concepts
  2. Institutional Regime
  3. Natural Heritage
  4. Environmental Standards
  5. Climate Change
  6. Marine and Coastal Zones
  7. Environmental Incentives
  8. Reparation of Environmental Damages and Penalty Regime

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Given its size, Ecuador has the highest annual deforestation rate of any country in the Western Hemisphere. The economic crisis and dependence on fossil fuels have perpetuated clashes between the State and local communities trying to protect their land and resources. Despite the nation’s unprecedented constitutional considerations for recognizing “nature” as a juridical entity, Ecuador does not officially publish deforestation data at periodic intervals like other Latin American countries. A report by the Ministry of the Environment reveals that Ecuador had 12.6 million hectares (31.2 million acres) of native forest in 2016; in 2018, it had lost 116,857 ha (288,760 acres). The Critical Geography collective is working alongside the Ministry of the Environment to support environmental education on Ecuador’s primary forests and the populations that live in these intact ecosystems. Deforestation in the country is threatening biodiversity, impacting hundreds of thousands of species. The deterioration of forested areas in terms of soil function leads to a significant loss of forest biomass that does not necessarily end up being registered as deforestation, skewing the data. The economic crisis has also affected the Socio Bosque program, an initiative which focuses on the conservation of forests and native páramos (alpine tundras) by providing economic incentives to villagers and indigenous communities who choose to make a commitment to conservation. If funding is not secured for the program, deforestation at the local level will continue unabated.
  • The expansion of large-scale mining in Ecuador has garnered the attention of the environmental organization Acción Ecológica (Ecological Action). The founder of the organization, Esperanza Martínez, is concerned about the siting of mining operations in vulnerable areas like Yasuní National Park and other places with páramos or indigenous territories. With the palm oil industry growing in northern Ecuador, corruption among the upper echelons of government is rife, as citizens have felt dissatisfied with the environmental studies presented by the companies that want to exploit natural resources. The Biosphere Institute at San Francisco University is working with local communities to demand more transparency over environmental assessment reports. Mining concessions were granted to a company working at the Mirador, a large open-pit mining project in the province of Zamora-Chinchipe. The extraction of copper is destroying the ecosystem and the government has turned a blind eye to these operations because of the focus on the country’s economic crisis.

References and Further Reading


Ministry of the Environment, Contact Doerthe Arend: