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EDO: harnessing the power of communities to protect nature

The Environmental Defenders Office is empowering people to make a difference against climate change.
Published 16 Feb 2024   |   3 min read

With a mission to “create a world where nature thrives”, the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) works alongside communities to protect nature and a liveable climate.

Why the Environmental Defenders Office was selected for a 2023 Visionary Grant

Often new fossil fuel approvals are green-lit with minimal community consultation – because local people aren’t even aware of the projects being slated for development. EDO and the Fossil Fuel Tracker project targets the heart of this issue by helping to raise awareness and education within local communities.

The Environmental Defenders Office has a highly skilled team with a great track record of producing environmental outcomes via their strategic litigation.

We believe this project is a great public resource that has the potential to benefit and strengthen the actions of a lot of other community groups and environmental organisations across the country (good scale of impact).

View of the bush in a mountainous region of Australia which the Environmental Defenders Office works to protect

With a mission to “create a better world where nature thrives”, the Environmental Defender’s Office  works alongside communities to protect nature and a liveable climate.


Inside the EDO story

Starting out as a small group of lawyers responding to the community’s demands for legal representation to protect the natural environment from harmful development, EDO is now the largest environmental Community Legal Centre in the Australia Pacific, helping members of the community protect the environment, and arming them with the information to do it.

“Our latest innovation is a Fossil Fuel Tracker, a tool designed to give communities a resource to guide effective climate action and protect the places they love.” EDO’s Head of Legal Education, Jemilah Hallinan shared. “The Fossil Fuel Tracker gives communities accurate and timely information about coal, oil and gas projects in their area – at all stages of development.”

Launched in 2022, the tracker finds and deciphers the information communities need. Information from the tracker acts as an early warning system for affected communities to enable citizens to exercise their public participation rights.

How will the Visionary Grant help bring about real change?

“Our Community Outreach team provides critical legal resources to people who want to protect the places they love,” Jemilah explains.

“This grant will help us provide the crucial resources to gather and collate accurate data so that we can keep the Fossil Fuel Tracker current and reliable.”

The Fossil Fuel Tracker helps people defend our safe climate and limit environmental pollution and harm in their own neighbourhoods. Not only will the grant support EDO in providing timely and effective legal advice to frontline communities, but it will also support a dedicated EDO Outreach Solicitor who manages the tracker.

With data from forensic searches of government gazettes, newspaper articles, and government and proponent websites across state and federal jurisdictions, the Outreach Solicitor updates the tool weekly – particularly important as the climate and biodiversity crisis gets increasingly urgent.

“Reliable data is critical to achieving the outcomes our communities and clients want. The AE Visionary Grant will help support EDO to provide access to environmental justice for communities on the frontline of catastrophic climate change and harmful pollution.” 


See all 2023 Visionary Grant recipients


Australian Ethical acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the country on which we work, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and recognise and celebrate their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and thank them for protecting Country since time immemorial.

See our Reconciliation Action Plan