The Rio Declaration of 1992 requires states to enact national legislations for environmental management. It also requires them to ensure that citizens participate in management through granting them access to information held by public authorities concerning the environment.
Further by granting citizens the opportunity to participate in decision making processes concerning the environment and by ensuring effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings including provision of redress and remedy.
Access to justice requires that government agencies and others respect not only the other procedural rights of access to information and participation but also that substantive environmental rights are protected so that citizens have an opportunity for seeking redress whenever there is failure to respect environmental rights.
ILEG in pursuit of its mandate to undertake and promote capacity development and advocacy on sustainable development, environmental justice and security, and good governance took the lead to strengthen the capacity of citizens to understand and apply laws and policies on the environment, and strengthen the capacity of Kenyan lawyers to litigate and advice on environmental public interest cases.
The project which was initiated in 2006 saw ILEG hosted the first ever All Africa Public InterestLitigation conference for lawyers. This conference brought together lawyers from the African continent with interest in public interest litigation and served to inspire more Kenyan lawyers to take up the cause for the environment. Another conference on Public Interest Litigation for lawyers took place from the 2nd 4th August 2008.
To further enhance efforts in promoting good environmental governance in Kenya, ILEG conducted a research on public interest environmental litigation practice in Kenya. The findings were condensed in a publication entitled ‘Public Interest Environmental Litigation in Kenya: Prospects and Challenges.
The publication discusses the concept and legal framework for public interest environmental litigation, and examines the role of law and litigation in sustainable development. It illustrates the importance of ensuring citizen access to environmental justice and assesses the extent to which Kenyans have been granted access to courts and how they have dealt with environmental cases.
The publication looks at environmental issues in Kenya requiring intervention especially in the public interest and challenges faced in pursuit of such intervention. It also looks at the historical development of court decisions regarding environmental cases over the years including a synopsis from other jurisdictions and provides the framework within which public interest can contribute to environmental management pointing out strategies necessary for policy and legislative reform initiatives that will encourage public interest litigation and citizens’ access to environmental justice.