Environmental law

Everyone has the right to a healthy life.

The state provides conditions for a healthy environment.

Everyone is obliged, as part of their authority and activities, to devote special care to the protection of human health, nature and the human environment.

The right to a preserved environment in Croatia is the constitutional right of every citizen, inextricably linked to the obligation of the state to provide conditions for a healthy and safe life of each individual. However, a healthy environment is not only a passive right, but also an active obligation of citizens. Understanding its importance, the Association Sunce, via the Department of Environmental Law, achieves its strategic goal related to the increased influence on public policies and jurisprudence in the field protection of nature, the environment and sustainable development.

Environmental protection is most effectively consumed by the right of citizens to give voice to the environment through their active actions and participate in the decision-making of public authorities which can have an impact on the environment, while the protection of the right to a healthy environment is ensured by the legislative system. By using legal tools for environmental protection, the Association Sunce strives to influence the environmental situation of Croatia, encourage civic engagement and contribute to the development of the environmental law branch.

Legal science and practice have recognized the environment as an object in need of legal protection, and it is realized by almost all traditional branches of law. In recent decades, awareness of the importance of environmental protection has been strengthened, which also influences the development of a special branch of law – environmental law. Although it is a young branch of law which arose from other branches, it has already made significant changes in traditional legal principles and procedural rights when it comes to the public interest.

The Association Sunce, through the work of this department, strives to actively contribute to the development of environmental law in the Republic of Croatia, but also in the European Union, since environmental problems know no borders. The work of the legal team is based on the use of available legal tools for environmental protection at national and European level, and it is based on new information about environmental problems through complaints received via the Green Phone or during regular work on projects and activities of the Association. Thus, we actively participate in the creation of legislative acts and environmental decisions through public participation procedures, we initiate judicial and administrative procedures aimed at achieving improvements in the environment, provide assistance to citizens and their initiatives and associations in achieving an active role in environmental protection, educate new generations of lawyers with a program of professional practice, produce professional papers in the field of environmental law.

The application of environmental law is not possible without networking with other stakeholders, so we achieve and develop partnerships and cooperation with the Public Ombudsperson of the Republic of Croatia, the Law Faculties in Split and Zagreb and other academic institutions, local and regional self-government units, environmental civil society organizations and civic initiatives, and our requisite allies are the public and the media.

Green Phone

Green Phone is a long-term and continuous project of the Association that has been operating in Sunce since 1999 as part of the Network of Green Phones of the Republic of Croatia. Green Phone is a free tool for all citizens who want to report a problem related to environmental and nature protection, and do not know whom to turn to. Today it exists as the Network of Green Phones of the Republic of Croatia, and Sunce automatically receives calls from Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva Counties.

Report the problem, and our legal team will help you with complete discretion. Upon receipt of the call, we will refer you to the competent services or we will participate in the administrative procedure ourselves to solve the problem. If necessary, we will go out there or contact the media. We do not guarantee the possibility of solving every problem, but we will certainly do our best.

If you wish, you can email your complaint to [email protected] or [email protected].

Legal proceedings

Environmental protection is not possible without procedural norms and competent authorities that ensure the exercise of the right to a healthy environment that is in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. Legal procedures in which the Association Sunce participates as a party are mostly administrative procedures (assessment of the environmental impact of the intervention, an estimate of the need to assess the environmental impact of the procedure, strategic environmental impact assessment, Main and Preliminary assessment of the impact of the intervention on the ecological network, inspection procedures, access to information and the like), administrative disputes at the Administrative Courts of the Republic of Croatia and the High Administrative Court of the Republic of Croatia, procedures on objection to the Ombudsman of the Republic of Croatia, procedures on a complaint to the Commission of the European Union, objections to other European bodies, objections to international bodies for monitoring the implementation of international acts, e.g. Committee for monitoring the implementation of the Aarhus Convention.

Environmental protection in the Republic of Croatia is regulated exclusively by environmental laws (e.g. Environmental Protection Act, Nature Protection Act) but also by a whole range of laws containing only a few environmental standards (spatial planning, mandatory relations, penal code and the like). Therefore, the activities of Sunce’s legal team are aimed at studying and testing new legal tools to protect the environment.

Professional practice for law school students

The Association Sunce provides students of law faculties with a program of professional practice and/or traineeships by working on environmental subjects of the Department. For the last four years, The Association has been the official teaching base of the Faculty of Law in Split. Under the guidance of mentors, with many years of experience working in environmental subjects and experience working in the justice system, students have the opportunity to get acquainted with this interesting branch of law with participatory models of education by working on real subjects of environmental endangerment.

Implementation of projects

In order to educate and inform the public about important environmental issues through the legal system, or to address a pressing environmental problem, the Department implements thematic projects and organizes public events.

Some of the current projects are:

Green Phone

SEAS, Preserving the Adriatic Sea Ecosystems by Active Participation of Citizens

JEDRO, Public policies for sustainable social development: water, energy, waste.