If human society is to stay within the bounds of critical ecological thresholds, it is imperative that environmental laws are widely understood, respected, and enforced and the benefits of environmental protection are enjoyed by people and the planet. Though environmental laws and regulations have expanded dramatically across the globe since the 1972 Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment, there often exists a gap between the requirements of environmental laws and their implementation and enforcement.
Environmental rule of law—which describes when environmental laws are widely understood, respected, and enforced and the benefits of environmental protection are enjoyed by people and the planet—offers a framework for addressing the gap between environmental laws on the books and in practice. Its benefits extend far beyond the environmental sector. It also strengthens rule of law more broadly, supports sustainable economic and social development, protects public health, contributes to peace and security by avoiding and defusing conflict, and protects human and constitutional rights. As such, it is a growing priority for all countries. ELI worked with UN Environment to develop the First Global Report on the Environmental Rule of Law, which was released in January 2019.
ELI President Scott Fulton offers commentary on the state of environmental rule of law (courtesy of IACEJ members in DC from DSD OAS on Vimeo).
ELI has also undertaken numerous other programs and projects that aim to build environmental rule of law, including:
- helping countries and communities develop effective environmental laws;
- strengthening judiciaries through training programs in countries around the world;
- strengthening civil society engagement (for example, in Africa, in China, in Europe, in Latin America and the Caribbean, and in water management);
- building capacity for environmental professionals to implement and enforce environmental laws;
- serving as the Secretariat for the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE)
- promoting environmental rule of law in conflict-affected countries through environmental peacebuilding