On Thursday 29 June 2023, the Assembly of the Loyalty Islands Province in New Caledonia adopted a local law on protected species, to which IRD researchers made a major contribution.

The category of natural entities subject of law (ENJ in French) was thus  created as the highest category in its nomenclature of protected species and natural areas. Sharks and turtles are the first to benefit from this new status.

With the scientific support of the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in New Caledonia, the Loyalty Islands Province has been developing its environmental law in a participatory manner for the last ten years. This law is often at the cutting edge of innovation in terms of the legal protection of nature and incorporates ancestral Kanak customs and worldview.

Today, the Assembly of the Loyalty Islands Province in New Caledonia, with its normative competence in environmental matters, has enriched the LIP Environment Code (CEPIL) in application of the unitary principle of life enshrined in article 110-3 (CEPIL) in 2016, by adopting the regulation on the protected species, which creates natural entities subjects of law (ENJ), a new category of legal person that does not exist in France or in any of its other overseas territories.

© Karla Bussone

This is an achievement that all defenders of the rights of Nature in France and around the world are calling for.


Sharks and turtles are the first to benefit from this ENJ status, which gives them fundamental rights and the right to take legal action through spokespersons to protect their own interests.


The work on the Rights of Nature carried out by Dr. Victor DAVID, a research fellow at IRD (GRED and SENS research units), over the last ten years or so, with the support of French and foreign specialists, has been directly mobilised in favour of the desire of the elected representatives and customary authorities of the Loyalty Islands to grant, in formal law, certain elements of Nature the protection afforded to them by Kanak custom.

Other researchers from the IRD center in New Caledonia, specialists in environmental sciences or terrestrial and marine biodiversity in the Loyalty Islands - such as Hervé Jourdan - and anthropologists - such as Catherine Sabinot - have also contributed their expertise to facilitate the consideration of social, cultural and ecological issues in the process of drafting the environmental code: assistance in drawing up the list of protected species, identifying the values accorded to marine and terrestrial species, understanding local standards, etc.


  • Victor DAVID, Research Fellow in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (UMR SENS - IRD)

Assemblée de la Province des Îles Loyauté, jeudi 29 juin 2023.

© Province des Îles Loyauté