We work to protect the environment through advocacy, litigation and science. We base our strategic decisions on the best research and policy analysis. We act on legal opportunities – whether influencing decision-makers or in court.
The power of the law
Strong laws are the best tools we have to protect the environment. By combining our legal expertise with scientific understanding, we work to tackle issues ranging from climate change to habitat loss, air pollution to deforestation.
Using the law we find real, workable solutions to the planet’s most crucial challenges. We assist in writing strong laws. We ensure relevant law is properly implemented. We help citizens to hold decision-makers to account and to get access to the information they need.
The major threats to our planet are global and the solutions must also be global. The biggest environmental issues – climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity and land degradation – are economic and security issues too.
The world is constantly presented with new pressures which create the need for new solutions. Climate change requires fresh thinking for markets, investors and carbon-intensive industry. Businesses, governments and individuals all have a part to play in protecting the environment around us.
We use law as a tool to mend the relationship between human societies and the Earth. We work in Europe and beyond, bringing together law, science and policy to create practical solutions to key environmental challenges.
Possibility. The belief that societies’ relationship with the natural world can and must be changed, and that law is an appropriate and effective tool to do so.
Boldness. The audacity, courage, passion and resolve to challenge the status quo – to promote, defend and ultimately gain acceptance for new ideas.
Creativity. The freedom, time, trust and tools to allow entrepreneurial thinking and development of novel ideas and approaches to problems.
Adaptability. The nimbleness to seize opportunities as they arise, consistent with our strategic vision.
Transparency. Collaboration and participation in decision-making among colleagues and other organisations.
Strategy. A strategic vision which offers practical solutions to see our mission through.
The contribution of law
Everyone is familiar with campaigning for environmental causes. Yet campaigns can become much more powerful when they are backed by the power of law. A carefully chosen case or series of cases is itself a campaign, using the courts to enforce the law.
Tough, diligent, patient use of the law to enforce environmental rights helps build civil society. This can motivate all groups and individuals who are able and willing to make a difference. A well-functioning civil society can create political pressure for action based on the scientific and economic evidence.
We focus on the specific contribution that law and legal tools can make to environmental campaigns. Our engagement and influence is backed by the power of law. And our litigation is deployed in a strategic way, where it can elevate societal concerns to legal action.
Improving environmental democracy
Where the law can assist environmental action it can be extremely powerful. It can level the playing field between citizens and vested interests.
We work to ensure that everyone has access to environmental information, can participate in policy-making processes and challenge decisions that impact the environment through the courts.
Environmental information should be held by authorities in the public interest. Transparency allows participation in decisions that impact our everyday life. It is also what prevents corruption, in matter and in mind.
But there are still significant obstacles to legal remedy in many countries and particularly at the heart of the European Union. Our access to justice work tackles the barriers which prevent citizens from going to court.
We focus on access to the European Court of Justice as its decisions completely bar use of the court by NGOs, except in relation to cases involving documents. This means that no NGO has been granted the right to challenge any decisions from EU institutions. In the UK, access to justice costs are prohibitively expensive – which deters individuals and many organisations from challenging decisions before the courts.
Improving citizens’ access to justice is a long term challenge. For us, environmental democracy is key. Success will empower all citizens to hold decision-makers to account.