First Belgian March for Biodiversity held in Brussels
To mark International Day for Biological Diversity on Monday, environmental organisations organised the first Biodiversity March in Brussels on Sunday. Some 300 people took part.
The participating organisations are calling for a more ambitious definition of ecocide to be included in Belgian legislation. "We regularly demonstrate for the climate, but the biodiversity crisis is also severe and closely linked to the climate crisis," said Ruth-Marie Henckes, biodiversity expert at Greenpeace. "Measures such as the recognition of ecocide in the criminal code are necessary to slow down this trend."
Ecocide is the destruction of an ecosystem or the infliction of irreparable damage. Henckes: "By including ecocide in the penal code, prison sentences can be pronounced for damage to the climate or an ecosystem."
The march was organised by Stop Ecocide, Greenpeace, Canopea, Rise For Climate, Youth for Climate, Climate Justice for Rosa, Fondation Européenne pour le droit du vivant, Extinction Rebellion, and Grandparents for Climate.
Belgium's Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne included ecocide as a crime in the new penal code last year, "but it's not quite there yet", Henckes said on Sunday. The proposal still has to be advised by the Council of State, the supreme administrative court, which checks the proposal's legality. After that, it will go to parliament.
"The government's definition of ecocide is very narrow. It is only about deliberate damage, but the major ecocides in the world are rather the result of a lack of precaution," says Henckes. Parliament endorsed a resolution in 2021 where the definition of ecocide was "much more ambitious and matches our definition of ecocide", she says.
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK / © BELGA VIDEO TIMON RAMBOER