Information is a strategic resource with an importance similar to land, labour and capital. Collecting information is time consuming and expensive, but sharing this information saves time, manpower and money. Ready access to information is one of the most important factors for policy formulation and lawmaking on the national as well as international level and developing countries in particular profit from this service.

Since 1963 the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law (formerly known as Commission on Legislation and Commission on Environmental Policy, Law and Administration) and over the past forty years the Environmental Law Centre, have continuously collected and catalogued legal provisions relating to environmental conservation in individual countries. A growing number of significant international instruments have been developed and added to the pool, as well as literature pertaining to environmental policy, law and administration.

Today the ELC libraries collection hosts one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections of environmental law and literature, which covers the entire spectrum of issues related to environmental conservation: from soil pollution to genetic resources, from water quality to waste management. IUCN, through the Environmental Law Centre, has pioneered the computerisation of its huge information resources since the late 60s. The development of electronic data processing finally resulted in the establishment of ELIS, the Environmental Law Information System, in 1980. ELIS is a multi-lingual, structured, relational data bank, using software especially designed for legal data. ELIS, which has been constantly improved and added to, is still a valuable retrieval system, which offers an enormous amount of search and sort facilities.

The number and variety of requests for data and assistance to develop environmental law that the ELC received from governments, academia, the private sector, including NGOs during the last years demonstrated the growing need to access environmental law information. This led to the development of an Internet-based environmental law information system, called ECOLEX, a joint capacity building project of IUCN,UNEP and FAO.

In addition the Environmental Law Programme publishes a series of Environmental Policy and Law Papers, which comprise the work done for various projects. Apart from in-house projects, the papers also reflect cooperations with a number of other IUCN programmes and organisations,demonstrating that our valuable information is shared.

The library is open on request. Please contact the IUCN Environmental Law Centre Secretariat:

Phone: ++49 - 228 - 2692 - 231
Fax: ++49 - 228 - 2692 - 250