History

Our story began in 2003, at the heart of the European Union enlargement. About a year later, many countries from the former “Eastern Block” became EU Member States. Back then, environmental lawyers from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia realised that joining forces on the Brussels scene would strengthen their national cases. EU membership brought about stronger environmental standards, but these are not equally applied everywhere. Making the EU and national governments keep their promises to better protect the people and the environment is the core effort of Justice and Environment (J&E).

The organisation expanded from having 4 members in 2003 to 14 today, most of them residing in EU countries.

Organisation

We are a network of 14 green law NGOs located in several EU countries and beyond. There are 11 full members and 3 associate members. J&E members often serve as environmental law 'service points' in their countries, handling cases, participating in legislative processes and sometimes providing legal analyses and consultations for national governments. J&E lawyers are seasoned environmental law experts, experienced within their national legal systems, familiar with challenges faced by their respective communities and well aware of the EU legal framework.

Structure

The General Meeting of all J&E members is held at least once a year to set strategic directions and assess overall development. The Executive Committee is responsible for the management of the network. It consists of five elected representatives of J&E full members, led by the J&E Chairman. The Executive Committee delegates some of its powers to a Coordinator, responsible for the day-to-day management. The latter is assisted by a Financial Manager and Accountant and a Communication and Fundraiser Consultant.

The Advisory Board is comprised of reputable experts such as Ludwig Kramer, Lana Ofak, Fritz Kroiss and Tanweer Ali. They help us set strategic directions and provide valuable input.

Funding

Our work is made possible by the generous support of our current and previous donors: 

Mission and Action

Mission: J&E uses its legal expertise and experience to improve EU environmental laws and their implementation for the benefit of the environment and people across Europe. Vision (external): EU environmental laws protect the planet and the people, doing so in a transparent, participatory and accountable way.

We aim for a stronger environmental legislation and implementation on both the national and European Union stages to protect the environment, people and nature. Our coverage is wide and we are well aware of the environmental law enforcement issues shared by Spain and Estonia for instance. Gathering national experiences enables us to expose pressing issues in Brussels, while maintaining strong ties with local communities.

How We Work

As lawyers we mostly use legal methods and tools to convince decision makers into spurring positive change. We analyse the implementation of EU law, illustrate on-the-ground practice via case studies, design policy recommendations. When needed, we defend the rights of communities and nature in court and launch infringement proceedings against faulty governments. In partnership with other NGOs, we campaign for a change in law and enforcement. We work to improve our campaigning activities, to engage people via media tools.

Our Scope of Work

We are currently working on:

In the past, we also worked on Waste, Transport, Health and Biodiversity (Natura 2000).

J&E Advisory

J&E (officially called Association Justice and Environment, z.s.) is a non-profit non-governmental organisation registered under Czech law. During the many years of operation, J&E was often invited by commercial companies to serve as a consultant in technical assistance projects or research projects. In order to be able to join these consortia, J&E established its own company under Czech law called J&E Advisory, s.r.o. This is a for-profit entity and it is different from the association, however, its management is linked to the one of the association. If you would like to get in touch with the company, please contact the Coordinator of J&E.

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) - Greece

IEW (IEW, Belgium)

Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) - Greece

FRONT 21/42 (North Macedonia)

Bluelink (BL, Bulgaria)

Zelena Akcija (ZA, Croatia)

VIA IURIS (VI, Slovakia)

Legal Information Center (PIC, Slovenia)

ÖKOBÜRO (ÖB, Austria)

International Institute for Law and Environment (IIDMA, Spain)

Frank Bold Society (FBS, Czech Republic)

Estonian Environmental Law Center (EELC, Estonia)

Environmental Management and Law Association (EMLA, Hungary)

Bankwatch Association Romania (BWA, Romania)

Our Belgian member organization Inter-Environnement Wallonie changed its name and accordingly, its logo, too. Farewell, IEW - welcome, Canopea! https://www.canopea.be/

J&E presented a statement on national environmental and climate planning at the Public Participation Task Force Meeting of the Aarhus Convention (https://unece.org/info/Environmental-Policy/Public-Participation/events/369122). You can read the statement here or on the website of J&E (www.justiceandenvironment.org).

Litigation success regarding Austrian wolves: Hunting permits no longer enforceable in Tyrol In connection with a hunting permit for a pair of wolves, the Provincial Court of Tyrol (Austria) has upheld an appeal by J&E member ÖKOBÜRO, WWF Austria, Umweltdachverband and Naturschutzbund Austria. It also recognized the suspensive effect of an appeal against the hunting permit for a wolf. By decision of August 22nd, 2022, the Provincial Court of Tyrol overturned the decision of the Tyrolean provincial government on the killing of a pair of wolves. According to the contested decision, the male wolf and the female wolf would have been allowed to be shot in three hunting sub-areas in the East Tyrolean municipalities of Lavant, Tristach and Nikolsdorf until October 31st. Now the Provincial Court of Tyrol has referred the matter back to the authority for a new decision. The Provincial Court based its decision on the fact that it could not guarantee that only the wolf individuals causing damage and not mistakenly another wolf was shot. In fact, another wolf has been identified in the area in question. In all likelihood, this is a puppy of the wolf pair in question and thus the first proven reproduction in the alpine area of Austria. In addition, on July 29, 2022, another wolf was released for shooting for a limited period until the end of October. ÖKOBÜRO, WWF; Austria, Naturschutzbund and Umweltdachverband have achieved with their complaints that this wolf may not be shot for the time being – at least as long as the complaint procedure is ongoing. This ensures that no shooting can take place on the basis of illegal permits. Consequently this means that the hunting permits concerning the three wolves are no longer enforceable. Since there was no wolf population in the Austrian Alpine region until now, the cancellation of the hunting permit for the two parent animals is a success for the protection of the species!

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Espoo Implementation Committee considers lifetime extensions of Czech nuclear reactors At its 53rd session in May 2022, the Espoo Implementation Committee considered a complaint by J&E member ÖKOBÜRO and GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) regarding the lifetime extension of the Czech nuclear power plant Dukovany. The complainants had criticized the lack of a transboundary environmental impact assessment when prolonging the licences for several reactors for an unlimited time. At its meeting, the Committee concluded that this prolongation constituted a major change to an activity listed in appendix I to the Convention on transboundary impact assessment (Espoo Convention) that was likely to cause a significant adverse transboundary impact. It thus began a Committee initiative on the matter as the case gave reason to assume non-compliance by the Czech Republic with its obligation under the Convention. Within this initiative, it will also examine the application of the Espoo Convention regarding the planned extension of two reactors of the Temelín NPP in Czechia. For further information see the Report of the Implementation Committee: https://unece.org/sites/default/files/2022-06/ece_mp.eia_ic_2022_4_advance_edited.pdf

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Read our latest report: Anti-SLAPP legislation in the US and Canada (http://www.justiceandenvironment.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Anti_SLAPP_legislation_in_the_US_and_Canada.pdf) For more information, visit our website or the one of CASE (www.the-case.eu).

News from Austria Strengthened participation rights for environmental organisations (May 2022) The Supreme Administrative Court of Austria (VwGH) made clear that environmental organisations may claim compliance with environmental protection requirements under EU law irrespective of the violation of their subjective rights. This is not limited to the objectives of Art. 11 of Directive 2011/21/EU on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Therefore, national legislation, implementing EU legislation in the field of the environment, as well as directly applicable provisions of EU environmental law can be invoked by environmental organisations.

Today, on 23.06.2022 the Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention elected the first ever Special Rapporteur of the Rapid Response Mechanism. J&E congratulates to Mr. Michel Forst for his election and wishes him success as well as offers its cooperation to him. (The Special Rapporteur will stand up against the persecution, penalization and harassment of environmental human rights defenders.)

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Court verdict: Czech government must urgently meet its climate commitments The Municipal Court in Prague today upheld the Czech Climate Litigation lawsuit in a landmark decision and ordered the state to urgently take the necessary measures to slow climate change in accordance with its obligations under European and international law. The courts in the Czech Republic have done so for the first time in history. The evidence showed that the Czech Republic's Climate Protection Policy, the government's strategy determining the Czech Republic's pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions, is not sufficient in terms of contribution of the Czech Republic to goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. If every country behaved in this way, crossing tipping points in the Earth's climate system would become inevitable, which would have a major negative impact on the ecosystem as a whole and on the international community, which includes the people of the Czech Republic. The plaintiffs convinced the court that the measures taken by the state so far are not sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990. State authorities are obliged to have a plan of precise and complete measures towards this goal, which is currently not the case. According to the court, the defendants have not provided legitimate reasons for their inaction. The court concluded that the objective of the Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius is not legally binding, however the aforementioned national contribution is, and cannot be continually avoided. Avoiding fulfillment of the climate goals would threaten the plaintiffs' constitutionally guaranteed rights. The Court expressly finds that if the state had fulfilled its climate obligations, there would still be climate impacts, however they would be smaller. It also stated that the Czech Republic cannot absolve itself of its climate responsibility by reference to its relatively small contribution to global climate change. The plaintiffs were the Czech Climate Litigation - a civil association of over 260 citizens, joined by the municipality of Svatý Jan pod Skalou, which is struggling with the effects of ongoing climate change, and other plaintiffs, including foresters and farmers. The plaintiff group was represented in the proceedings by Frank Bold lawyers.

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News from Latin America on the Escazu Agreement The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties will take place between 20 and 22 April 2022 at ECLAC headquarters in Santiago (Chile) in a hybrid format. The Escazu Agreement is the Latin American and Caribbean equivalent of the Aarhus Convention. The Access Initiative and the World Resources Institute will organize a side event at the COP1. Please join TAI and WRI and partners UNEP / USEPA/ OGP in this event. Please register here to participate and the link to join: https://usepa.zoomgov.com/meeting/register/vJItf-GgpjwoE9ggeOBm9QKlxUwGDsoQtXg

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