Environmental Law Institute Offers Special Programming in Celebration of Its 50th Year: Environmental Justice & Vulnerable Communities

July 2019

(Washington, D.C.): The Environmental Law Institute envisions a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law. Within this lens, it is clear that race and socioeconomic status should not dictate the environmental health risks we face. Yet, too often, this is not the case. Throughout the month of July, ELI will be taking a closer look at “Environmental Justice & Vulnerable Communities” as we continue to offer special events, programs, and publications in commemoration of our 50th Anniversary.

ELI 50th logoThe environmental justice movement seeks to avoid, minimize, and mitigate disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority and/or low-income communities. ELI prepared A Community Guide to Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to Secure Environmental Justice and A Citizen's Guide to Using Federal Environmental Laws to Secure Environmental Justice to help ensure that disadvantaged communities are engaged meaningfully in the environmental decisionmaking processes. Both guides are free for download.

This summer, ELI and the Rights and Resources Initiative will release the findings of an innovative methodology and global analysis that monitors national legal recognition of Indigenous Peoples’, local communities’, and indigenous and community women’s freshwater tenure rights. And in the Nile Basin, ELI is working in partnership with the Stockholm International Water Institute to elevate perspectives from women water leaders and to shine a light on the persistent failure to include women equitably in political decisionmaking processes related to transboundary waters. On July 8, ELI WELL (Women in Environmental Law & Leadership) will host Community-Based Water Tenure & Women in Water Diplomacy, where panelists will discuss these projects and examine community-based water tenure rights and the role of women in water governance from the local to the transboundary level.

On July 30, ELI’s annual Summer School Series will hold a session on opportunities and obstacles within the realm of environmental justice. Faculty will explore NGO advocacy efforts, including community-led public health initiatives and community-based climate resilience programs; inclusion of communities in the decisionmaking process; federal, state, tribal, and local government addressing environmental justice; and methods for including multiple stakeholders in environmental justice conversations and processes.

For those looking for a comprehensive review of the complex mixture of environmental laws and civil rights legal theories that are central to this still-evolving area of law, be sure to check out Barry Hill’s Environmental Justice: Legal Theory and Practice. Now in its 4th edition, the book includes all of the significant cases and developments that have occurred since the prior edition. Readers will come away with a deep understanding of the dynamics of environmental justice and gain insight as to how best to address the issue through enlightened leadership in our communities, government agencies, state bar associations, law offices and legal services providers, law school clinics and academic institutions, and corporations.

Among ELI’s many Community Environmental Health & Education programs is the Blight Revitalization Initiative for Green, Healthy Towns (BRIGHT) program. BRIGHT identifies corridors of blighted, vacant, and environmentally impaired properties in overburdened communities and supports the community and municipality in developing a revitalization plan. Be sure to check out The BRIGHT Green Jobs Repository: A Catalog of Training Opportunities for Green infrastructure Technologies.  ELI’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs also has a wealth of information that may be of interest to those working with vulnerable communities. And ELI has published a number of blogs pertaining to environmental justice matters.

ELI traces its origins to a national conference on the emerging field of environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969. Often described as a one-of-a kind environmental law think-and-do tank, ELI continues to effect change through its work as a premier environmental law educator, convener, publisher, and research engine as we enter our 50th year.

Be sure to follow @ELIORG on twitter throughout the month of July for updates on environmental justice-related events, reading recommendations, news items, and more. And don’t forget to visit https://www.eli.org/eli-50th-anniversary throughout the year for details and updates.