The Access Initiative

Greening Justice

Published: 2010

Creating and Improving Environmental Courts and Tribunals

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Specialized environmental courts and tribunals (ECTs) are making major contributions to access to justice, environmental governance, and protection of the environment around the world. Their growth is spectacular – hundreds have been developed in dozens of countries in recent years. This ground-breaking book provides step-by-step practical guidance on how to structure and operate an effective ECT – what works and what does not – based on two years of research and over 150 interviews with expert environmental judges, prosecutors, lawyers, litigants, government officials, academics, and advocacy groups in all regions and major legal systems of the world. This University of Denver ECT Study is authored by the multidisciplinary husband-wife team of George (Rock) Pring – a noted scholar and professor of environmental, international, and constitutional law, government consultant, and former environmental litigator – and Catherine (Kitty) Pring – a professional mediator, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) specialist, systems analyst and planner, and former government human services official (

The authors identify the 12 key characteristics of ECTs – the “building blocks” or design decisions which contribute to making ECTs work effectively. Designed for capacity building, this comparative study provides a range of options and alternatives within each building block suitable for developed, developing, or least-developed countries. Real world “best practices” and successes and failures are provided for each step, making this a book that will be invaluable to any country or constituency considering creating or improving an ECT.

This volume is published by The Access Initiative (TAI), the largest civil society network dedicated to ensuring that communities have a voice in decisions concerning their natural resources. For nearly a decade, World Resources Institute (WRI) has been privileged and proud to serve as the Global Secretariat of TAI. TAI partners have worked hard in over 45 countries to identify gaps in laws, institutions and practices in the implementation of Principle 10. In the last 4 years, TAI has ramped up its advocacy efforts and worked with Governments to reform laws and institutions to improve transparency, citizen voice and accountability in environmental decision-making. To support its work, TAI has undertaken or commissioned research that fills or supplements key knowledge gaps in good governance. This volume represents one such important effort. The challenge is to take this knowledge and apply it to courts and tribunals to provide cheaper, faster, and more effective justice in environmental matters.

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George (Rock) Pring, Catherine (Kitty) Pring, Introduction by Lalanath de Silva

Associated Rights


Access to Justice Laws and Regulations