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MacArthur Grant To Help ELI Strengthen Biodiversity Protection In Africa

July 2000

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a $405,000 grant to the Environmental Law Institute to build African capacity to protect biodiversity through law. This grant will strengthen the ability of ELI’s Africa Program and its in-country partners to address pressing environmental issues on the continent. It also complements ELI’s on-going international work on environmental governance, access to genetic resources, and constitutional environmental law.

The African continent is home to unique natural resources. However, sincere efforts at sustainable development often fail due to pressures on governments to emphasize economic growth. The challenge for the emergent public interest movement in Africa is to empower citizens and institutions to protect natural resources and public health while pursuing their national development goals.

ELI’s Africa Program was created after numerous requests from African non-governmental organizations and governments for assistance in integrating indigenous tools and examples from ELI’s extensive international work into strategies which can be utilized by African citizen advocates and government officials for environmental protection — and assistance in building the capacity to implement those protections.

In addition to working with environmental advocates in advancing legal theory and practice, the MacArthur grant will help ELI to strengthen the skills of African lawyers and judges, who may be seeing environmental litigation for the first time. The grant has already partially funded a workshop for East African environmental advocates in Uganda.

The MacArthur grant comes at the same time as the release of the program’s latest study, Constitutional Environmental Law: Giving Force to Fundamental Principles in Africa. This report demonstrates how constitutional rights to life and to a healthy environment, along with associated procedural rights, can be used to provide a foundation for enforcement of the environmental laws and regulations that are too often subordinated to development needs.

The grant will also assist the Institute in building its Africa Web site, which provides links to valuable information and Web-based resources. The site can be found at http://www2.eli.org/africa.htm.

Environmental Law: Giving Force to Fundamental Principles in Africa
can be downloaded for free or ordered by calling (800) 433-5120 or sending an email to orders@eli.org. For press copies, please contact pressrequest@eli.org.