Behind the Scenes at the ELAW Annual Meeting

 Kart Varmaari, Estonia

Dear friends,

More than 70 advocates from 38 countries converged in Berlin by train and plane two weeks ago for the ELAW International Annual Meeting, hosted by the Independent Institute for Environmental Concerns (UfU), our German partner organization.  We rolled our suitcases over cobblestone sidewalks, indulged in warm rolls and cheese and chocolate, renewed friendships, and worked hard.

UfU, ELAW and the Heinrich Böll Foundation co-hosted a conference on “Legal Remedies for Resource Extraction,” with a rich agenda populated by ELAW partners from around the world and a handful of other experts.  Twenty concurrent “Speakers’ Corners” examined diverse topics.

Tuesday and Wednesday ELAW network members hunkered down to the business of information exchange and trainings.  We worked on “Defending the Defenders,” – what we can do as a network about the rising threats and danger that environmental defenders are facing.  We worked on strategic litigation and creative lawyering outside the courtroom, challenging nuclear power, and the human right to water, among other topics.

Thursday we learned from Green Party representative Bärbel Höhn about Germany’s energy transition.  And Friday we had a hands-on tour of Feldheim, a small community that has successfully made the transition – producing 100% of its energy from renewable sources.  A corollary benefit of Feldheim’s transition is the 0% unemployment rate for its residents.

Germany is a leader in taking on our global climate challenge – their ambitious targets and investments in renewable energy are driving down prices of production for the rest of the world.  We return exhausted, inspired, renewed, determined and full of gratitude for our German hosts.  Thanks, UfU!


Lori Maddox
Associate Director