Annual Highlights

2020 has been a challenging year, but we are inspired by communities around the world working toward a brighter future. We are honored to collaborate with so many brilliant, dedicated advocates working in their home countries to defend people and the environment.

We are pleased to share some highlights of our work together this year:


Victory Over Single-Use Plastic in Bangladesh

ELAW partner Rizwana Hasan and the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association won a High Court order banning single-use plastic in hotels and restaurants. The Court also ordered the government to strictly enforce a current polythene ban.

“ELAW support helped us present the facts more convincingly, particularly with regard to legal restrictions on single-use plastic in other countries. The facts and figures from a wide range of global sources on how our oceans are being choked with plastic was invaluable.”
-Rizwana Hasan, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association


Defending Lake Chapala Watershed

The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on Mexico to protect the health of people who have suffered for years due to contaminated waters.


Strengthening Indigenous Advocacy in Brazil

ELAW helped strengthen a network of Indigenous attorneys working to protect Indigenous rights and territory in Brazil.


Successful Transition to Virtual Fellowships: Building Scientific Capacity in Panama

Panamanian scientist Isaías Ramos at the Center for Environmental Advocacy (CIAM) collaborated with ELAW Staff Scientist Dr. Meche Lu through a virtual ELAW Fellowship to advance CIAM’s work educating communities and decision-makers about threats posed by climate change and large-scale metal mining.


Strengthening Scientific Analysis in Uganda

Joseph Ahimbisibwe, a scientist at Advocates for Natural Resources and Development (ANARDE) in Kampala, Uganda, collaborated with ELAW’s science team to sharpen skills for critiquing environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs), organize community-based monitoring, and learn about successful efforts around the world to challenge resource extraction and land-use change.


Challenging Oil in the Peruvian Amazon and Coal in Colombia

ELAW submitted an Amicus Curiae brief in support of a petition challenging oil exploration in the Peruvian Amazon, and another Amicus supporting the Wayúu community’s request to stop air pollution from Colombia’s Cerrejón coal mine and protect their rights to health and a healthy environment.


Madras High Court delivers double blow to notorious polluter Vedanta-Sterlite

The court found the company responsible for a disastrous chemical spill and denied its bid to reopen. This judgement was hard won, coming after 24 years of litigation, advocacy, and strong community resistance.

Supporting Communities Harmed by Coal in Russia

Anna Fomina is an attorney working to protect communities in southwest Siberia from polluting coal operations. Anna began online English study at the University of Oregon’s American English Institute in September, to better tap legal and scientific resources not available in Russian and facilitate communication with grassroots advocates in the ELAW network.

We have also hosted virtual Fellows from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Guinea.


Shareholders Call for End to Coal Investment in Vietnam, Citing ELAW’s Concerns

ELAW’s Dr. Mark Chernaik has been working closely with partners at the Law and Policy of Sustainable Development Research Center to help challenge the ill-advised project. He reviewed the project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) and identified many flaws.


Victory for Communities & the Climate in South Africa

Major climate impacts and exorbitant costs have sounded the death knell for a new proposed coal-fired power station in South Africa that would have been one of the most greenhouse gas emission-intensive coal-fired power stations in the world.

“ELAW has collaborated with CER for years to help win this big victory.”
Nicole Loser, Centre for Environmental Rights

Norway’s Supreme Court Hears Climate Case – People vs. Arctic Oil

The Norwegian Supreme Court recently heard an appeal by Greenpeace and Nature & Youth challenging the Norwegian government’s decision to open new areas of the Arctic for oil exploration. ELAW’s Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the plaintiffs was accepted by the Supreme Court in September. We are awaiting the decision.

Thank you and congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard this year to defend communities and ecosystems.

Warm regards,

Bern Johnson
Executive Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide