Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

Environmental Law Institute (ELI)

Since 1969, ELI has played a pivotal role in shaping the fields of environmental law, policy, and management, domestically and abroad. We are an internationally recognized, non-partisan research and education center working to strengthen environmental protection by improving law and governance worldwide. We deliver insightful and impartial analysis to opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, academics, members of the environmental bar, and journalists. ELI is a clearinghouse and a town hall, providing common ground for debate on important environmental issues.

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1730 M Street, NW , Washington , District of Columbia 20036 USA
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Business Type:
Nonprofit organization (NPO)
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Market Focus:
Globally (various continents)

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Developing Law and Policy: From drafting landmark ocean management regulations for Antigua and Barbuda, to helping rebuild the legal framework for forestry in Liberia in the wake of a civil war fueled by conflict timber, we work with our partners to create practical, implementable laws and policies, learning from the experiences of others but tailored to the circumstances and needs of the local communities.

Educating Professionals and the Public: Across the U.S. and the globe, we teach people about the law, procedures, their rights and strategies for change. We are training judges around the world on critical topics in domestic and international environmental law and informing communities dependent on the Gulf of Mexico on how to influence the restoration and recovery process. We educate thousands of environmental professionals each year in the United States, with the conviction that more skilled environmental professionals result in better environmental outcomes. The ultimate goal is to help people improve the implementation of environmental and natural resource law globally.

Providing Objective Data and Analysis: We fill voids in collective understanding and inform the most critical environmental decisions of the day, from comparing U.S. Government subsidies to fossil and renewable fuels, to researching and describing a path for transatlantic cooperation on the regulation of nanotechnologies. In order to ensure a better-informed dialogue through common sources of good information, we also make collections of hard-to-find resources accessible to everyone involved in some of the most significant environmental challenges. We publish cutting-edge authors and their proposals to innovate for better environmental law and policy solutions.

Convening Diverse Groups to Solve Problems: We put the right people in a room together with a clear objective, strong preparation, and quality facilitation. For example, we convene scientists and journalists to work through the challenges of reporting on climate change data and bring together state and local public health officials from across the country to identify solutions to indoor environmental quality problems. We convene professionals representing divergent perspectives on important policy questions to build bridges, foster common understanding, and explore areas of ultimate agreement.

The Institute is governed by a board of directors who represent a diverse mix of leaders within the environmental profession and others who support strengthening environmental law and policy. Support for the Institute comes from individuals, foundations, government, corporations, law firms, and other sources.

Trained over 50,000 lawyers and managers as well as 2000 judges from 25 countries in basic and advanced environmental law and practice. Graduates of ELI's Judicial Education programs are working on environmental problems all over the world.

Educated and informed the public on Gulf of Mexico restoration and recovery processes. Since 2010, ELI has engaged in broad-based efforts to educate Gulf communities and the public about the restoration and recovery process initiated following Deepwater Horizon disaster. Through a series of workshops and other events, easily accessible materials, and a dedicated website, ELI works to equip Gulf communities to decide whether, when, and how to participate in the ongoing recovery efforts.

Developed legal tools necessary for adapting to climate change in the Mexican state of Chiapas. ELI has been working to build community capacity to adapt to climate change and to conserve the treasured Lacandon tropical Rain Forest by teaching farmers how to respond to climate change by identifying threats to their livelihoods and to the rain forest ecosystems.

Published a series of books on post-conflict natural resource management and created a web platform devoted to the topic. The six edited books include over 150 case studies and other analyses from over 60 conflict-affected countries and territories, written by 225 researchers, practitioners, and decision makers from around the world. The web platform, Environmental Peacebuilding, allows growing global community of researchers, practitioners, and decision makers in sharing experiences and lessons from managing natural resources in conflict-affected settings, accessing new research on the topic, and participating in events to support the growing network of professionals active in environmental peacebuilding.

Defended sound wetlands law and policy and worked with federal and state government to recognize citizen leadership in wetlands protection. ELI’s work supported maintaining broad federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and a strong federal-state partnership in protecting critical wetland resources. Since 1989, ELI has sponsored the National Wetlands Award Program with five U.S. agencies.

Helped develop state healthy schools policies. ELI’s innovative research has informed state laws and programs around the country. In Connecticut, ELI’s work provided policy options for writing the state’s new law to improve indoor air quality in schools.

Helped develop biodiversity coalitions in Delaware, Indiana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and New Hampshire working to adopt new programs to protect and restore biodiversity in their states. Recent ELI publications educate the public on ways to halt the spread of non-native invasive species, a major threat to biodiversity.

Strengthened the legal and policy framework for cleanup and reuse of contaminated sites — brownfields. ELI has surveyed state cleanup programs; sponsored conferences with all stakeholders; and developed policies for long-term management of sites. ELI’s work was used to develop recommended uniform state laws on institutional controls for such properties.

The Institute traces its origins to a national conference on environmental law held at the Airlie House in Virginia in September 1969. For the first time, a large group of lawyers, practitioners, and teachers from all parts of the country had gathered to discuss the emerging field of environmental law. The major proposal presented at the conference was a prospectus for an Environmental Law Reporter. A monthly publication was proposed that would collect environmental statutes, regulations, court decisions and other documents, and would carefully analyze developments in the field. The conferees warmly endorsed the prospectus, signaling the beginning of a successful effort to secure Ford Foundation funding for the Environmental Law Reporter, within the framework of a new institute.

Guided by its founders, the Conservation Foundation and the Public Law Education Institute, the Environmental Law Institute was incorporated on December 22, 1969 as a 501(c)(3) organization. Publication of the Environmental Law Reporter (ELR) began in January 1971. ELR has since become a major resource for those concerned with environmental law, and is the mainstay of the Institute’s publications divisions, which includes books, newsletters and conference manuals.

In October 1970, the Institute co-sponsored its first education program. Since then the Institute has responded to the critical need for research on institutional decision making and implementation of environmental policy. ELI has expanded to include extensive research projects, workshops, and training programs nationally and internationally.

Welcome to ELI’s directory of environmental law and policy experts. We are committed to delivering timely, insightful, impartial analysis to opinion makers, including government officials, environmental and business leaders, and journalists.

The Institute is fortunate to have staff members with deep expertise in many fields of environmental law and governance both in the United States and internationally. Their profiles are included in this experts guide. The Institute’s work does not address every topic of interest in the field, and our experts do not offer opinions in areas where they have not done substantial work.

The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) makes law work for people, places, and the planet.

ELI’s Vision is “a healthy environment, prosperous economies, and vibrant communities founded on the rule of law.”

ELI’s Mission is to foster innovative, just, and practical law and policy solutions to enable leaders across borders and sectors to make environmental, economic, and social progress. ELI:

  • Builds the skills and capacity of tomorrow’s leaders and institutions
  • Researches and analyzes complex and pressing environmental challenges
  • Promotes and disseminates the best thinking through print and electronic media
  • Convenes people with diverse perspectives to build understanding through robust debate