Arie Trouwborst and Han Somsen
The discussion commences with ‘loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions)’, which is the first of two core boundaries. Han Somsen and Arie Trouwborst argue in Chapter 12 that the accelerating rate of biodiversity loss and extinctions should be of existential concern. Challenges to measure biodiversity and articulate thresholds notwithstanding, the planetary boundary of biosphere integrity has an important role to play for both present and future environmental law. For current law, first, the state of transgression of the biosphere integrity boundary amounts to a strong claim in support of a teleological interpretation of nature conservation legislation, and its rigorous enforcement. Second, they show that it brings into sharp focus obvious gaps and weaknesses of current legal regimes, in particular in terms of levels of legal commitment towards achieving concrete results. The planetary boundary of biosphere integrity should therefore be central on the transformative agenda heralded by the Anthropocene. The authors conclude that nature rights, substantively expressing the planetary boundary of biosphere integrity, and procedurally operationalized and enforced with the help of existing and emerging technologies, are an important, if not an indispensable, part of that future endeavour.
Somsen, Han & Arie Trouwborst, ‘Loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions)’ in D French & L Kotze (eds) Research Handbook on Law, Governance and Planetary Boundaries (Edward Elgar 2021)