Environmental Defender Law Center (EDLC) is a grantmaking organization that provides legal assistance and funds to environmentalist activists in developing countries that oppose business activities and laws deemed to be anti-environment. EDLC has funded projects that oppose mining, dams, and large-scale farming and that support other environmentalist causes.
Environmental Defender Law Center was founded in 2003 to aid and advise activists, local attorneys, and officials in developing countries in environmental and international law.  In 2010, EDLC began a new non-profit grant program to fund private lawyers and provide resources in developing countries.  EDLC has provided approximately 100 grants since the fund’s inception. 
EDLC’s main focuses are on advising local leaders and attorneys on environmental and human rights laws, assisting indigenous communities, finding experts to help local communities and organizations, and preparing legal briefs, reports, and advising on international law with local attorneys and officials.
Farming and Harvesting
Beginning in 2008, Environmental Defender Law Center has worked with local groups in Cambodia to provide funding, legal strategy, and an economist to bring a class-action lawsuit against a sugar company claiming land grabs and unjust compensation.  As of July 2020 the case is still in litigation. 
EDLC has supported a 2018 lawsuit in Uruguay seeking to force farmers to stop using pesticides on crops. 
In 2008, the Mexican government was to build a larger dam than initially planned in Temacapulin, Jalisco.  EDLC argued that the larger project could potentially flood the local village and funded local attorneys and produced documents in the matter showing the government violated international laws and displacement standards with the project.  The Mexican Supreme Court sided with EDLC and local officials, declaring the plan for the larger dam void. 
In 2020, EDLC and Earthjustice filed amicus curiae briefs with the Mexican Supreme Court on behalf of indigenous Mexicans opposing a federal mining law.  In Peru, EDLC opposed building a new gold mine estimated to generate $2.7 billion in tax and royalty payments and provide thousands of local jobs.  In 2011, EDLC funded a group opposing opening a gold mine in Romania. 
Beginning in 2018, EDLC and Brazil’s Instituto de Estudos Amazonicos filed lawsuits against the government of Brazil to limit harvesting, claiming it violates the Paris Climate Treaty and is contributing to climate change.  In 2011, EDLC provided a grant to an organization in India that sought to reopen a 1989 settlement from Union Carbide stemming from a 1984 disaster in India. 
According to the organization’s Form 990 from 2020, Environmental Defender Law Center recorded $625,488 in revenue and $555,492 in expenses.  Expenses included providing $262,414 in grants and assistance to foreign organizations and individuals.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the largest recipient of grants accounting for 43.7 percent, followed by South America with 25.1 percent and Central America with 13.3. 
The largest contributors to EDLC in 2019 were the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund ($150,000), Schmidt Family Foundation ($100,000), Rudolph Steiner Foundation ($100,000), Overbrook Foundation ($80,000), and Tides Foundation ($15,000). 
Nicolas Hesterberg was named executive director of Environmental Defender Law Center in 2020. Previously, Hesterberg worked for Perkins Coie LLP, where he focused on complex litigation and performed pro bono work on immigration issues. From 2009-2010, Hesterberg was the Colombia-based staff attorney for EDLC. 
Lewis Gordon founded EDLC in 2003 and worked as executive director until 2020.  He currently works as senior counsel and sits on the board of directors as secretary.  Gordon began practicing law in Alaska in 1982, defending environmental groups in lawsuits.  From 1989 through 1994, Gordon was managing partner and on the steering committee of the Ashburn and Mason law firm handling litigation from the Exxon Valdez oil spill.