The Law on Nature Restoration originates from an extensive consultative phase between the European Commission and various stakeholders, following the publication of the European Biodiversity Strategy 2030 in 2021. The preceding strategy had achieved modest results: a staggering 81% of European habitats were in decline, and only 27% of animal and plant species had a satisfactory conservation status. Presently, European nature is governed by two pivotal legislative instruments: the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, safeguarding over 460 species of wild birds, 1,389 animal and plant species, and 233 types of habitats considered of community importance.
The Law on Nature Restoration operates within the framework of these two directives but goes beyond by imposing the obligation to restore what has been compromised. This law garnered approval with 336 votes in favor, 300 against, and 13 abstentions, marking it as the inaugural law concerning nature proposed and ratified by the European continent.
This legislation regarding the restoration of natural environments forms an integral component of the “Nature Package,” adopted on June 22, 2022. This package endeavors to establish legally binding objectives for EU member states, with the ambitious aim of restoring a minimum of 20% of the EU’s terrestrial and marine areas by 2030. This initiative also extends to the restoration of 15% of rivers in their entirety and the creation of high-biodiversity landscape features on at least 10% of agricultural land.
This ambitious project encompasses not only protected areas but also encompasses all ecosystems, including agricultural lands and urban areas.
The European legislation on habitat restoration signifies a pivotal starting point for one of the three pillars of the European Sustainability Plan, known as the “European Green Deal.” This plan aspires to reshape the entirety of the European economy through the transition to sustainable energy sources, biodiversity preservation, and the promotion of a circular economy.
The significance of this legislative proposal lies in its ambition to address the global challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. According to the assessment by the European Environment Agency, nature in Europe is undergoing a critical decline, with numerous species and habitats in precarious conditions. This law seeks to reverse this trend through legally binding objectives, including the restoration of diverse habitats and the enhancement of conditions for wildlife.
Furthermore, the legislation establishes specific goals for the restoration of habitats and species, such as the improvement and restoration of diverse habitats, the reversal of the decline in pollinator insect populations by 2030, and the restoration of marine and river ecosystems. It also includes plans to remove barriers obstructing watercourse connectivity, with the aim of restoring at least 25,000 km of free-flowing rivers by 2030.
In conclusion, the legislation concerning the restoration of natural environments constitutes a significant stride towards environmental safeguarding and climate change mitigation. Its ambitious objective of reviving deteriorated ecosystems in Europe represents a fundamental commitment to ensuring a sustainable future for the continent and forthcoming generations. Collaboration among member states and active participation from civil society will be indispensable for the success of this momentous initiative.
The legislation includes the following specific objectives:
- Pollinator Insects: Reverse the decline of pollinator insect populations by 2030 and achieve an increasing trend in pollinator insect populations, with a methodology for regular monitoring of pollinators.
- Forest Ecosystems: Achieve an increasing trend in the presence of standing and fallen deadwood, forests of various ages, forest connectivity, the abundance of common forest birds, and the accumulation of organic carbon.
- Urban Ecosystems: Strike a balance between the net loss of urban green spaces by 2030 and an increase in the total area covered by urban green spaces by 2040 and 2050.
- Agricultural Ecosystems: Increase populations of grassland butterflies and farmland birds, organic carbon reserves in cultivated mineral soils, and the proportion of agricultural lands with high-diversity landscape features; restore drained peatlands for agricultural use.
- Marine Ecosystems: Restore marine habitats such as seagrass meadows or sedimentary seabeds that provide significant benefits, including climate change mitigation, and restore habitats of iconic marine species such as dolphins and porpoises, sharks, and seabirds.
- River Connectivity: Identify and remove barriers that impede the connectivity of surface waters so that at least 25,000 km of rivers are restored to a free-flowing state by 2030.
The legal sector, considered as a system made of codes and laws that are not always easy to read, often interfaces with people’s lives. Due to the complexity of bureaucracy and legal language, defined by many authors as an intricate labyrinth of notions, paragraphs and articles, people feel inadequate and very often disoriented. In response to these difficulties, the idea has emerged that the legal system should be redefined in order to make it intelligible to everyone by employing a more linear and clear language. This process of legal innovation was developed through two important legal profiles: legal design and legal tech.
Indeed, the legal discipline has tried to improve the comprehensibility of legal language by abandoning, albeit partially, the so-called “scriptorum” of classical scholars through the use of Legal Design. In fact, the main purpose of this new legal instrument in the hands of new professional figures in the legal field was to limit the use of all technical terms, complex concepts and a particularly articulated syntax in order to facilitate the understandability of rules or contracts, taking into account the difficulty and needs of all relevant parties.
According to the Legal Design Lab of Stanford University, the notion of “design” indicates not only a simple aesthetic design, but also a completely new and innovative methodology that aims at creating intuitive results and legal tools through the employment of icons, graphic signs and argumentative maps in order to make law more transparent and understandable. The legal document is reshaped by resorting to illustrations and schemes, only the essential parts remain, in order to enable people who are not familiar with the legal sector to interact with the latter and understand it in the best way possible.
In Italy, the Bruno Kessler Foundation of Trento developed a project named “SIMPATICO” with the aim of simplifying legal language through the employment of artificial intelligence. The process created by the Foundation is structured around the prior analysis of the text and its consequent translation and adaptation to the needs and factual knowledge of the user, in order to achieve a final objective: to make the document comprehensible and decipherable by the reader. It has been recognized that digital development, which has been raging in every sector of the economy for over a decade, has also revolutionized the world of law and legal services, that more and more employ digital, fast, easy to understand and innovative systems.
professionals begin to be familiar with artificial intelligence, algorithms and
machine learning, as these tools enable them to combine legal skills with
innovative and highly technological solutions. In this context, professionals
feel the continuous and growing need to respond to and satisfy new needs,
including the reduction of time frames and the simplification of procedures
that have always been cumbersome.
According to Claudia Sandei, head of the Innovation Technology Law Lab (IITL) of Padova University, the figure of the legal professional is going to change in the next decade, as he will acquire competences and skills that will allow him to perform efficiently in the digital sector.
The early forms of legal tech were conceived at the end of 2000s, with the purpose of improving all the activities performed by law firms, including: acquisition of customers; monitoring of workflow; restructuring of information architecture; use of online space and cloud; as well as speeding up the management of relations with clients and institutions.
The rise of technology in the legal profession, in the
form of legal tech, fintech and insurtech, also represents an industrial trend
in technological development. In addition to the birth of tech boutiques and
companies with legal in-house, new technological developments have entered the
system. In 2019 there were significant decreases in the length of legal processes,
originated and favored by the implementation of platforms aimed at resolving
The United Kingdom and the United States are the
prodromal example of the digitalization process of courts and tribunals. In
fact, the two countries have encouraged the use of digital platforms to
facilitate the performance of legal processes in a virtual way, without the
need to be physically present in the courthouse. This, undoubtedly, takes on even
more importance in view of the pandemic that is raging on a global level. The
estimates regarding investments in
the digital revolution of the legal sector show the complexity of the increasing
digitalisation of law. In particular, in the two-year period 2018-2019, revenue
in the legal sector, notably the one employing legal tech instruments, exceeded 10.7 billion euro.
Moreover, according to Lawgeex, a contract review
platform, there are multiple types of tools relating to the world of legal
technology (the platform currently estimates about thirty of them). The impact
of new legal tech solutions, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and
intellectual property innovation, is absolutely disruptive and without
precedents. These new legal instruments not only guarantee the
production of tailor-made documents, shaped according to the needs of clients
and professionals, but also ensure the traceability of the various versions of each
document, allowing professionals to work simultaneously on the same document.
should be pointed out that, even though they may seem synonyms, there is a
remarkable difference between the notion of “legaltech”
and that of “lawtech”. Indeed, when we talk about legaltech, we refer
to the software and technologies that legal professionals use to simplify and
speed up their work; instead, the notion of “lawtech” identifies a
complexity of tools available to clients (legal chatbots, online markets).
To sum up, legal
technology is being developed in three main fields: 1) management of the law
firm through advanced control systems, 2) management and execution of practices
aimed at better administration of the same and, finally, 3) legal services to
the market, as platforms serving delivery services. As legal technology
continues to improve in all these areas, we can begin to imagine a future in
which legal tech tools will play an increasingly central role in the lives of
both professionals and clients, making the legal sector easier to understand