About the Environmental Law Programme


To advance sustainability through the development of legal and policy concepts and instruments, and through building the capacity of societies to develop and implement environmental law and policy, in furtherance of the IUCN Mission.

The Challenge

We live in a world where we are subject to environmental and economic effects that transcend national boundaries. Increasing globalisation has led to a greater recognition of the need to address many of these issues through a global or a regional approach.

Solid legal frameworks at all levels, supported by sound institutions that have a respect for the rule of law, are critical to achieving desired environmental objectives. The challenge ahead ranges from the need to develop the best possible international treaties and other agreements, right through to ensuring that each country has the capacity to effectively participate in the debate and to give effect to what is agreed.

The effective implementation of international treaties and other agreements will require each country to have the capacity to develop the necessary policies, legislation and institutions, and to have access to trained staff.

IUCN's Response to the Challenge

The ELP is an integrated programme of activities that assists decision makers with information, legal analysis, advisory services, legislative drafting, mentoring and capacity building at national, regional and global levels. The Programme also provides the opportunity and the forum for governments, non-government organisations and others to network and to share information and discuss ideas.

This vast Programme of activities is delivered through the collective efforts of the:

  • World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), an extensive global volunteer network of over 900 environmental law specialists in more than 130 countries;
  • Environmental Law Centre (ELC), a professional international office established in Bonn, Germany in 1970 with 15 highly skilled legal, policy and information specialists; and
  • IUCN lawyers based in Regional and Country Offices around the world. Environmental lawyers, or legal officer focal points now exist in IUCN offices around the world, with the Asia Region currently having dedicated environmental lawyers based in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

An Expanding Environmental Law Network

No other organisation can reach across the globe to offer such an extensive combination of expertise and experience as the ELP - the World's Environmental Law Network. The global network of environmental resources available to the ELP has been expanded to enhance our ability to deliver the Programme through the establishment of institutional partnerships.

Institutional Partners

Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with two environmental law organisations in South America, namely:

These organisations have a long history of collaboration with the ELP as do a number of other organisations, including the Macquarie University, Sydney, the Environmental Law Institute in Washington DC, Pace University in New York and the World Wide Fund for Nature in New Delhi. The IUCN ELP has also signed an MoU with ENF EnviroLaw Solutions for activities in Africa.

The IUCN has also entered into Memoranda of Understanding with UNEP and FAO in relation to the operation and expansion of ECOLEX, with UNEP and the Regional Environment Centre for Central and Eastern Europe regarding joint activities in Eastern Europe, with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme for activities in the South Pacific, and with UNITAR.

The ELP - Delivering Lasting Results

The ELP integrated programme of global activities is designed to deliver lasting results. Activities can be followed up through the Programme's local presence and its vast membership and volunteer network.