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ClientEarth Communications

3rd November 2021


ClientEarth’s collection of ten landmark cases for biodiversity released

A selection of ten landmark legal cases for biodiversity from around the world, compiled by ClientEarth, has been officially released this month.

Environmental justice is the last line of defence for the environment. For this reason, ClientEarth decided to compile a selection of particularly representative legal cases in defense of biodiversity, releasing it at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CPO15), held in Kunming, China last week. The selection was released in both Chinese and English versions.

Dimitri de Boer, ClientEarth’s chief representative for China, said: “In the context of the COP15 for biodiversity, we reach out not just to legal professionals, but also leaders in government, business and civil society - these ten inspiring stories demonstrate the power of the law in protecting the priceless biodiversity of our planet”.

An early version of the booklet was launched at the World Judicial Conference on the Environment, held in Kunming in May. During the conference, leaders of China’s Supreme People’s Court expressed their appreciation for the booklet, as it compares significant cases from different jurisdictions, and covers various threats to biodiversity.

The selection includes successful legal challenges from all major continents. It includes cases initiated by local NGOs, as well as ones brought by prosecutors and judges. Top environmental judges and lawyers participated in the selection of the best cases.

One of the most inspiring cases selected is perhaps the litigation brought by 25 young people in Colombia against their government for failing to live up to its international obligations to reduce deforestation in the Amazon, thus violating their right to a healthy environment and life.

Other cases collected include a legal challenge initiated by an environmental NGO in China that led to the suspension of a hydroelectric dam that would have destroyed the living environment of a critically endangered bird, and the case of the residents of small town in Australia who teamed up with an NGO and won a legal challenge against the local government and a mining company to stop the expansion of a coal mine.

We hope the stories of these ten landmark cases will help leaders to understand the power of litigation, and inspire legal professionals around the world to take action.