The Environmental Defenders Office runs bold and groundbreaking environmental cases to protect wildlife and the natural world. We give everyday people access to the justice system and empower communities to find legal remedies for their environmental problems.
EDO runs landmark, innovative litigation. We bring important cases to help clients defend their communities from destructive development and stand up against powerful interests in court.
Our lawyers have been at the forefront of some of Australia’s biggest environmental legal battles, from the Adani mine and drilling in the Great Australian Bight, to protecting whales in the Antarctic.
EDO lawyers and scientists are expert advocates for strong environmental laws to protect our communities and wildlife. We are the respected and informed voice on the law as it relates to the environment in Australia and the Pacific. We advise governments and communities, and influence the development of critical legislation.
EDO regularly makes submissions on policy and legislation. Click here to see some of our past submissions.
We aim to empower communities to participate effectively in decisions that affect them and the places they love.
Our legal information is delivered by lawyers who specialise in plain English communication and helps people have their say in public consultations, identify unlawful behaviour and challenge unwelcome or unhealthy developments.
Our special programs support our legal advice, court cases and policy development work.
Our Aboriginal Engagement Program delivers the full range of our legal services to Aboriginal peoples and communities, strengthening our relationship with existing Aboriginal clients, and helping to establish new relationships by promoting our services to Aboriginal communities.
Our International Program builds the capacity of lawyers in the South Pacific to protect the environment through the law.
We work with organisations in a number of Pacific countries – including Fiji, PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – to tackle a range of issues such as climate change, threats to marine environments, forestry and mining.
The objectives of the International Program are:
- To enhance the capacity of local communities, individuals and organisations to achieve environmental conservation and sustainable development outcomes through legal mechanisms.
- To raise the profile of environmental law at national and regional levels.
- To promote the values of public participation and good governance and to empower the community to achieve better outcomes through the informed use of the law.
- To build partnerships and networks for information-sharing and collaboration to maximise the effectiveness of capacity building work in the region.
- To increase access to justice by working with diverse groups within the community, particularly women, disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
- To increase understanding in Australia of the environmental and development law issues facing other countries in the region, and to develop support for and avenues for engagement in EDO NSW’s capacity-building activities among the Australian community.
The right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly is a fundamental principle of a liberal democracy, set out in several international human rights treaties.
EDO’s specialist citizen representation lawyers give people advice and information about the laws that regulate environmental protests. Our lawyers can also provide representation to those who have been charged with criminal offences at protests.
Scientific Advisory Service
In 2003, we established a scientific advisory service to provide objective scientific and technical advice to clients on public interest environmental law.
A key aim of the scientific advisory service is to increase the community’s capacity to participate effectively in the environmental planning and development assessment process.
The scientific advisory service comprises:
- In-house scientific advice, led by Scientific Director Dr. Megan Kessler.
- A Technical Advisory Panel of academic experts who provide strategic advice to EDO on scientific issues.
- An Expert Register, of over 150 scientific and technical experts in a range of fields who assist EDO from time to time on a largely pro-bono (volunteer) basis. If you would like to join our Expert Register please complete our application form.
When to get scientific advice
Scientific and technical information plays a significant part in environmental law. For example, environmental planning relies on scientific information to determine where to best place development and where to best protect land, while environmental impact assessment relies on consultants and other technical specialists to predict and minimise the impacts of developments.
Examples of when scientific advice could help you include:
- Investigating the impacts of a proposed development on the environment and preparing a submission to government on the adequacy of an environmental impact assessment.
- Investigating compliance with conditions of approval for a development or with environmental legislation for an activity such as forestry operations or land clearing on private land.
- Gathering information to support your views in relation to a development or to influence a change in environmental policy or law.
- Considering Court proceedings for environmental cases.
Extensive scientific assistance will only be available from EDO for matters that meet our advice or casework guidelines.
It’s important to come to us as early as possible, as it may take some time to work through key issues. However, you should note the expertise you require may not be covered by the Expert Register and that members of the register provide their time free of charge and may not always be available. For legal advice, please contact your local office.