Environmental Justice - Comparative Experiences in Legal Empowerment

12 Jun 2014
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This report outlines challenges and innovations arising around the world as communities and governments pursue an agenda of justice based on inclusive and sustainable use of natural resources and the environment. The paper highlights trends in strategies emerging across regions (Asia-Pacific, Arab States, Africa, and Latin America and Caribbean), including the integration of environmental principles in constitutions, as well as in national laws and regulations, and ensuring access to remedies through courts in environmental matters, such specialized tribunals. It also highlights how social mobilization and demands for social accountability for environmental justice utilize key legal empowerment strategies, such as paralegal support to raise legal awareness, monitor policies and programmes, promote engagement in legal and policy reform, as well as support public interest litigation. Finally, the paper explores how informal and plural legal systems are often more likely to recognize the close relationship between traditional land and natural resources for indigenous and tribal communities, and the importance of the increasing trend of recognition of these systems as important environmental justice forums. This comparative experiences analysis of environmental justice trends is a joint endeavor between UNDP’s governance and environment and energy expertise and capacities.

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