It wasn’t until 2005 that the Charter for the Environment, the most recent of the four constitutional texts, was incorporated in the preamble of the Constitution of 1958.

The plan to include environmental issues in our founding texts dates back to 3 May 2001. On that day, in Orléans, President Jacques Chirac affirmed in a speech that he wanted to create a Charter for the Environment, an announcement that became a promise during his 2002 presidential campaign. 

The text of the project was prepared over four years by a dedicated committee, made up of scientists, academics and civil society actors, chaired by Professor Yves Coppens, who followed the opinions of two committees, one legal, the other scientific. 

The opinion of French citizens was gathered all over France.

The National Assembly and the Senate then entered the fray in 2004. 

The following year, the Parliament, meeting in Congress at Versailles, ratified, by 531 votes to 23, the introduction of the Charter for the Environment in the preamble of the Constitution of 1958.

Lastly, for the final step in the constitutional process, President Jacques Chirac promulgated the Charter on 1 March 2005.

The text

The French People,

Considering that:

Natural resources and equilibriums have conditioned the emergence of mankind;

The future and very existence of mankind are inextricably linked with its natural environment;

The environment is the common heritage of all mankind;

Mankind exerts ever-increasing influence over the conditions for life and its own evolution;

Biological diversity, the fulfilment of the person and the progress of human societies are affected by certain types of consumption or production and by excessive exploitation of natural resources;

Care must be taken to safeguard the environment along with the other fundamental interests of the Nation;

In order to ensure sustainable development, choices designed to meet the needs of the present generation should not jeopardise the ability of future generations and other peoples to meet their own needs,

Hereby proclaim :

Article 1

Everyone has the right to live in a balanced environment which shows due respect for health.

Article 2

Everyone is under a duty to participate in preserving and enhancing the environment.

Article 3

Everyone shall, in the conditions provided for by law, foresee and avoid the occurrence of any damage which he or she may cause to the environment or, failing that, limit the consequences of such damage.

Article 4

Everyone shall be required, in the conditions provided for by law, to contribute to the making good of any damage he or she may have caused to the environment.

Article 5

When the occurrence of any damage, albeit unpredictable in the current state of scientific knowledge, may seriously and irreversibly harm the environment, public authorities shall, with due respect for the principle of precaution and the areas within their jurisdiction, ensure the implementation of procedures for risk assessment and the adoption of temporary measures commensurate with the risk involved in order to preclude the occurrence of such damage.

Article 6

Public policies shall promote sustainable development. To this end they shall reconcile the protection and enhancement of the environment with economic development and social progress.

Article 7

Everyone has the right, in the conditions and to the extent provided for by law, to have access to information pertaining to the environment in the possession of public bodies and to participate in the public decision-taking process likely to affect the environment.

Article 8

Education and training with regard to the environment shall contribute to the exercising of the rights and duties set out in this Charter.

Article 9

Research and innovation shall contribute to the preservation and development of the environment.

Article 10

This Charter shall inspire France's actions at both European and international levels.

Updated : 15 December 2022