The Subjective Right to Environment in the General Part of the Environmental Code Act

  • Kaarel Relve
Keywords: Right to a healthy environment, constitutional environmental right, standing in environmental matters, environmental interest, codification of environmental law


Section 23 of Estonia’s General Part of the Environmental Code Act sets out a subjective right to environment. The purpose behind the paper is to examine the basis for the right and analyse its scope and contents in order to determine whether it satisfies the criteria outlined by the Supreme Court for an independent material enforceable subjective right to environment.

The right has no explicit basis in international, EU, or constitutional law. The GPECA’s §23 was intended to codify and expand the existing court practice surrounding the basic environmental right. However, the provision does not satisfy the criteria set forth by the Supreme Court, on account of ambiguities in the formulation of the right. The elements of the provision are analysed, and several suggestions are made for the purpose of clarifying the ambiguities.