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ACOEL International Pro Bono Committee

The mission of the International Pro Bono Committee is to (a) identify deserving non-US environmental groups underserved by the existing international environmental legal community, (b) develop relationships with the most appropriate representatives of those groups and (c) act as a clearing house by which Fellows of the College can individually provide pro bono services to those clients on specific projects identified as worth of their efforts by the Committee.

Committee Members

Opportunities for Engagement


See agenda above and the following information:

  1. Africa Initiative (Leader V. Robbins)

In 2016, ACOEL executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Wildlife Foundation to undertake wildlife and resource conservation work in Eastern, Central and Southern sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, we were active in assisting the East African Wildlife Prosecutors’ Coalition in drafting a constitution and bylaws that would enable it to improve the effectiveness of its anti-poaching efforts in Eastern and Southern Africa. In May 2019 calls, AWF reported that it has a new Chief Executive Officer who is changing the direction of the Foundation. Nonetheless, AWF affirmed again that ACOEL is an important resource and partner. We reaffirmed in turn that ACOEL continues its readiness to work with AWF in important anti-poaching and other resource preservation projects – and that the ACOEL Foundation stands ready as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization in the USA to join AWF in applying for appropriate grants. Our current mission is to advise AWF on techniques used by U.S. agencies to detect and combat/avoid wildlife cybercrime. The project involves training East African wildlife prosecutors about the American experience in tackling cybercrime and best practices to be adopted. We will advise the full College of future pro bono opportunities for individual Fellows as they occur.

  1. Cuba Initiatives (Leader D. Farer)

For the past five years, the Cuba Working Group of the ACOEL International Pro Bono Committee has been making concerted efforts to establish a formal relationship with a Cuban entity that will allow Fellows of the College to engage in pro bono activities to assist the Cuban people in addressing particular environmental concerns and issues. We are pleased that the College has now entered a Memorandum of Understanding with the largest environmental foundation in Cuba, the Foundation Antonio Nunez Jimenez of Nature and Humanity. The MOU was signed at a formal ceremony at the offices of the Foundation in Havana on February 14, 2019. Liliana Nunez Velis, President of the Foundation and daughter of the founder Antonio Nunez Jimenez, signed for the Foundation. David Farer was there on behalf of the College with delegation of authority from former ACOEL President Allan Gates. While previously in Havana, we also met with the environmental law faculty of the University of Havana, with whom we also had discussions and with whom we hope to proceed on collaborative projects in the future. We also conducted a successful webinar with Columbia University and others on February 22, 2021 to discuss issues affecting Cuba and the broader international community.


  1. India Initiative (Leader T. Hester)

ACOEL has been in discussions with retired Justice Swatanter Kumar, formerly of the India Supreme Court and the India Green Court. Justice Kumar spearheaded negotiations between the ACOEL and (a) the Indian Law Institute and (b) the India National Law University in Delhi to provide for ACOEL Fellow participation in appropriate pro bono law projects in the subcontinent. Justice Kumar recently advised that both the Indian Law Institute and the National Law University of Delhi have orally agreed to entered into Memoranda of Understanding for future pro bono work. We have relayed draft MOUs to Justice Kumar, the Institute and the University for review. We hope to approve and sign final documents later this Summer. This effort may require a trip to India for signing as well as for in-person discussions of potential pro bono projects. We will circulate further information about any potential trip to India in order to invite interested Fellows to participate. The possibility of funding for travel and/or other expenses remains under discussion.

  1. Waterkeeper Initiatives (Leader J. Bruen)

Waterkeeper Alliance is the umbrella organization for some 300 waterkeepers in the United States and abroad. The International Pro Bono Committee is the interface between Waterkeeper Alliance and international Waterkeeper projects around the globe. For 2021, those projects (to date) include opportunities to become strategic advisors to local Waterkeepers who oppose dam projects on the Mekong River in Laos and the Karnali River in Nepal. Those projects also include opportunities to teach at international training summits in Latin America (by Zoom), China (by Zoom or in person), Sweden (by Zoom or in person) and Canada (by Zoom or in person).