The Mar Menor (Menor Sea) has Rights

Granting rights to the Mar Menor and its basin strengthens social democracy and opens the way to furthering ecological justice with a new generation of rights for nature, which complement human rights.


The Mar Menor (Menor Sea) has been suffering for decades from pollution that has increased in the last two decades, resulting in an eutrophic collapse – a decomposition process which kills animal life due to oxygen deprivation. As a reaction to the death of almost all the flora and fauna in the coastal lagoon, citizens have sought a legislative path to reverse this ecological situation, by recognising legal rights to the Mar Menor and its basin in order to force Public Administrations to exercise their powers.


The subjective right provides the most powerful legal protection to any person or entity that is considered valuable. Faced with the ineffectiveness of Environmental Law, which does not recognise nature as a subject but as an object, an innovative ecocentric view recognises that human beings are part of the ecosystem, as any other species, and that nature has sufficient value to be the bearer of its own rights. This is a pioneering initiative as it is the first ecosystem which has had legal rights recognised in Europe. 


The Popular Legislative Initiative (PLI), initiated in October 2020, managed - in the middle of the pandemic - to exceed the minimum of 500,000 signatures required by the Spanish Constitution. In both the Congress and the Senate the PLI obtained a majority higher than the required majority of 2/3, and was thus approved by the Spanish Parliament on in September 2022. It is part of the innovative socio-political initiative to recognise the legal rights of ecosystems. The Mar Menor's cry for help became the cry of the citizenry to defend the right to life and the recovery of the lagoon.

Project owner
Maria Teresa Vicente Giménez
Professor of Philosophy of Law and Director of the Chair of Human Rights of Nature at the University of Murcia
Project team
Juantxo López de Uralde
Chariman of the Congressional Committee on Ecological transition and Demographic challenge of the Congress of Deputies.
Project team
Eduardo Salazar Ortuño
Environmental Lawyer. Member of the Chair of Human Rights and Rights of Nature at the University of Murcia. Member of the Leading Committee of the PLI