Strengthening Environmental Legal Instruments in Russia

Copyright Environmental Rights Center BELLONA

Environmental pollution and destruction are massive problems in many regions of Russia, which is tolerated or not effectively regulated by state authorities. Through ailing and inefficient industrial production, a deficient waste disposal system, radioactive contamination or construction projects in nature reserves, sensitive ecosystems in Russia are being destroyed. Air, water and soil are suffering from pollution. The ecological and social consequences affect many parts of society. Activists and affected citizens are often hindered during protests and threatened with punishment by state authorities. At the same time, young people are becoming increasingly interested in environmental and climate protection. At both regional and local levels, however, initiating appropriate legal proceedings can be a useful tool to protect the environment and people.

Collective and class actions are not possible in Russia or only to a very limited extent. Since only private individuals directly affected by environmental pollution can sue, this area of law is not very lucrative and there is little demand for it. Law faculties only provide basic knowledge of environmental law and do not offer any specialization. Therefore, there is a lack of expertise and financial resources to prepare elaborate expert opinions – including those on the environmental compatibility of, for example, planned infrastructure or construction projects – that would stand up to judicial review.

These issues are the starting point for the project. The legal review of environmentally damaging actions should be an effective addition to the civil society toolbox for environmental protection. In close cooperation with its partner organizations BELLONA and the Russian-German Bureau for Environmental Information (RNEI), the DRA implements measures in this project for legal knowledge building and networking of central actors in Russian and international environmental protection.

The DRA has withdrawn all measures and cooperation in Russia on the 26th of May. Find out more HERE.


  • Lawyers and environmental professionals in Russia will be strengthened in their ability and willingness to make greater use and develop legal instruments or legally codified instruments (such as environmental impact assessments) in order to prevent damage to the environment or to work to protect environmental activists.
  • Practitioners and prospective lawyers will be given opportunities for further training and will be motivated to become more involved in environmental law or the legal representation of environmental activists.
  • Environmental lawyers, experts and activists exchange information at seminars and conferences to establish a sustainable qualified network.


Activities April to December 2020

  • „Eco-Jurist“ competition for law students from different regions in Russia
  • Virtual learning and exchange program for Russian and German students with expert meetings in environmental and climate protection organizations for Russian and German students and subsequent joint project work
  • Training on environmental impact assessment in Russia for environmental and legal professionals
  • Environmental law seminars for law students at Russian universities in different regions
  • Networking conference for environmental lawyers, experts, and activists in Russia
  • 3-month fellowship at a German host organization for a practicing environmental lawyer


The project is supported by the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Brot für die Welt.