Law Division



UNEP has a long history of contributing toward the development and implementation of environmental law. DELC is the focal Division within UNEP which oversees the many facets of this global legal framework. Hence, the role of DELC within the framework of UNEP is primarily to ensure the progressive development of environmental law across different environmental sectors and levels of governance. 

At a global level, DELC has been pivotal in the facilitation of intergovernmental platforms for the promotion and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and defining international environmental norms. At the regional and national scales, DELC has supported many fora as well as the utilisation of resources aimed at strengthening legal principles, policies and guidelines that seek to address environmental issues, especially transboundary legal challenges. These fundamental activities, along with specific sectoral work such as enhancing freshwater and marine law, together form the central aspects of DELC’s work in building and strengthening global environmental laws.

DELC’s current mandate principally stems from the 2009 Montevideo Programme, for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law which forms a broad strategy for the international legal community and UNEP in formulating the activities in the field of environmental law for the decade commencing in 2010.


Below is a list of the key activities undertaken by DELC.


  • Judges Programme 
    This programme aims to better equip legal practitioners, judges and jurists in their roles interpreting and applying environmental laws.   

  • Building Capacity to Strengthen Carbon Markets – Africa
    Meetings, workshops and materials to strengthen implementation of Clean Development Mechanism initiatives in African nations.

  • Green Customs Initiative
    A partnership of international organisations aimed at enhancing the capacity of customs in facilitating legal trade, and preventing illegal trade, of environmentally sensitive commodities

  • InforMEA
    Knowledge management platform that brings together 12 global MEAs to develop harmonized and Interoperable information systems in support of knowledge management activities among MEAs for the benefit of Parties and the environment community at large.

    This information service on environmental law, operated jointly by UNEP, FAO, and IUCN, provides information on treaties, non-binding policy and technical guidance documents, national legislation, judicial decisions, and law and policy literature.