CIEL uses four cross-cutting legal levers for systemic change to have the greatest impact in supporting our mission and the work of partners around the world:

Promoting Environmental Democracy

The principles of environmental democracy — the rights to information, public participation, and justice — ensure that people have a meaningful say in decisions that affect them and effective ways to protect their rights. These access rights are the best way to prevent environmental harms and human rights abuses. Around the world, however, countries are increasingly limiting public participation, closing civil society spaces, and intimidating or criminalizing those who speak out in defense of their rights and environment. Strengthening systems to make environmental democracy a reality and protect environmental human rights defenders around the globe is vital to building a more just and sustainable society.

Counter-balancing Corporate Power,custom embroidery t shirts in orlando

Corporate control of our economic and political systems has reached unprecedented levels. Around the world, multinational corporations operate with few restrictions and little accountability. They have privileged access to decision-makers, influence political and regulatory processes, and control and distort information and science that has massive health and environmental impacts. The tools available to seek justice for the harms caused by corporate activities remain limited, slow, and difficult to access. By counterbalancing corporate power and finding new ways to hold corporations accountable, we can change the incentives that lead to bad behavior and move us toward a more just and sustainable society.

Ensuring Finance Serves People and the Planet

Finance and investments flow across borders and into projects that threaten human rights, lock us into continued fossil fuel dependence, and wreak environmental havoc. By confronting problems at their financial source, we can address those threats more rapidly than through policy alone. This finance includes not only new sources of public international finance, such as climate funds, but also investments from sovereign wealth funds, public pensions, and private financial institutions. Following the money and redirecting it away from harmful investments and towards more positive outcomes for all is a critical way to affect change on a broad scale.

Strengthening International Environmental and Human Rights Law

The effectiveness of international law as a tool for change is increasingly challenged by major geopolitical shifts, the growing power of non-State actors, political backsliding within the United States and elsewhere, and reliance on voluntary approaches to address international problems. Yet experience demonstrates that global challenges demand global solutions, and while voluntary commitments can supplement binding obligations, they are not a substitute. To respond to these challenges and ensure that international law remains a vital (and viable) tool in addressing them, we must ensure that the law is effective — that it responds to existing needs, continually adapts to changing realities, and, above all, leads to real changes in policy, human behavior, and environmental outcomes.

Through using, strengthening, and continually testing these approaches across many aspects of our programs, our goal is to create new legal tools whose potential far exceeds our own capacity to use them. In so doing, we seek to empower communities and NGOs far beyond those with whom we work directly and, in empowering the broader movement, enable change at a grander scale.

To have the greatest impact, we focus our efforts in five key result areas:

Reducing Toxic Risks

Around the world, exposure to dangerous chemicals is skyrocketing. Identifying and reducing threats posed by chemicals, pollutants, and other manmade substances that imperil human health and the environment requires a lifecycle approach to safe toxics management and global chemical control policies. CIEL works to protect human health and the environment from threats posed by hazardous substances, including endocrine-disrupting chemicals and nanomaterials.

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Fossil fuels are the biggest single driver of climate change. To keep the world below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, the era of fossil fuels must end. CIEL is working to reduce the expansion and lock-in of long-term fossil fuel energy infrastructure; mitigate the environmental, health, and human rights impacts of fossil fuel production and consumption; and challenge the legal and financial justifications for investment in fossil fuels.

Protecting Forests & Intact Ecosystems

Forests mitigate climate change, protect biodiversity, and support the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities. Forests and traditional agricultural landscapes are increasingly threatened by large-scale infrastructure projects, unsustainable logging, and conversion of ecosystems for monoculture and other uses. CIEL works to protect ecosystems and communities by ensuring forest and land use governance is strong, well enforced, and embedded in an international system that uses the power of markets to reinforce positive change.

Making Trade Safer for People and Environment

Trade and investment agreements are powerful tools for corporations to drive a deregulatory agenda that privileges corporate profits over the public good. CIEL will work to strengthen environmental and human rights laws by eliminating investor-state dispute settlement, securing a strong treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable, and ensuring that trade and investment agreements bolster, not undermine, domestic environmental regulations.

Ensuring Human Rights Drives Development

Human rights should drive development. Too often, however, the rapid expansion of development activities sacrifices human rights and the environment in the name of economic growth and actually worsens the situation of those it is intended to help. CIEL works to transform the development model so human rights and community decision-making are integrated into climate and development policies and drive investment decisions.