For 25 years, the Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) in New South Wales has been protecting the environment through law and working to educate and empower citizens of Australia to ensure environmental justice for their communities.

At their celebration last week, the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Robert French, spoke not only about the fabulous work of EDO, but also of the importance of the global network of environmental advocates.

Chief Justice French acknowledged the role of ELAW in protecting the global environment.  He said:

“Many of these organisations, including the EDO, form part of what is now the world’s largest litigation and law reform environmental network, the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).  The ELAW network was created in 1989 at the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon Law School.  Its founders agreed to collaborate, to replicate successful environmental policies and to learn from each other’s experience.  Their cross-border collaboration relies significantly on the Internet and electronic communications generally.  It uses technology to expand the impact of work done in disseminating information in response to specific requests for legal and scientific assistance.  Today more than 300 public interest advocates, from 70 countries participate in the ELAW network.

The Environmental Defender’s Office of New South Wales tonight celebrates the first 25 years of its existence and does so as part of a global movement.  The national and worldwide networking of environmental defenders and like organisations reminds us that the environment is a global concern.  That concern has never been more acute than today particularly in relation to climate change.”

These remarks were part of the celebratory conference entitled ‘Public Interest Environmental Law in Australia : 25 Years On’.  Conference papers and presentations will be available on the EDO website shortly.