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The Legal Response Initiative (LRI) provides free legal support to the least developed country delegations and NGOs in relation to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The international negotiations under the UNFCCC are amongst the most complex multilateral law and policy making process ever. Industrialised nations can afford huge teams of dedicated, specialist lawyers giving them an advantage over less developed countries that can’t afford the same and are often most at threat from climate change. LRI seeks to create a more level playing field between actors in the climate change negotiations.

The LRI was set up in mid-2009 by lawyers from Oxfam GB and WWF-UK, and a number of practicing barristers and solicitors in London. Silke Goldberg (Partner in Herbert Smith Freehills London office) was one of the founders of the LRI and is now chair of the Board of Trustees. Since 2009LRI has attended all sessions of the Conference of the Parties and intersessional meetings.

LRI works through a network of practicing lawyers and academics in different jurisdictions who give hands-on assistance during meetings, draft legal opinions or build the capacity of lawyers and negotiators from developing countries. Our lawyers prepare advice and briefing papers, which are then made available to those nations who are in need of assistance via an online database.

Some of LRI's work includes:

  • Attending conferences of the UNFCCC parties to support work on the Paris Agreement work programme and implementation of the agreement
  • Advising on the national climate change legislation of Kenya, Nepal and Papua New Guinea
  • Advising on a wide range of UNFCCC, Green Finance Fund and Paris Agreement related legal and policy issues

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The LRI provides vital legal support to the poorest countries in the UNFCC negotiations at international level and more locally through assistance with national legislation and capacity building. I encourage anyone who has an interest in climate change to get involved - it is a fantastic opportunity for lawyers to be part of this amazing initiative and know that your advice will really make a difference.

Silke Goldberg, Partner