How to Build Evidence for Justice – Groundtruthing Environmental Compliance

People around the world live in areas that are being altered for industrial, infrastructure or mining projects. Their lives and occupations are being negatively impacted by problems of access, encroachment or pollution.

Though governments in many countries have regulatory procedures for implementing environmental and social safeguards to minimize or mitigate such problems, compliance of these safeguards is often absent or low. Further, what is stated in law, regulatory approvals or license agreements often does not correlate with the actual adversities that affected people are forced to deal with. As suchIndia paralegal with man and papers, compliance with these laws and processes is little more than a bureaucratic exercise. This phenomenon is not peculiar only to developing countries, it also presents challenges for already industrialized economies in Europe and the United States.

Groundtruthing is a method of gathering information that can connect official regulatory requirements with the actual impacts development has on people in a particular location. The outputs from a groundtruthing exercise can be used as effective evidence to demonstrate levels of compliance by projects to the relevant authorities. In the long run, citizen’s engagement with compliance issues will help to make the overall regulatory system more proactive and responsive to their concerns about development.

The three and a half minute video below provides an overview of the groundtruthing method and shows how our team in India has been using it to find remedies to issues of environmental non-compliance.

For those interested in applying the method, a recap and a recording of our one-hour webinar on groundtruthing for environmental compliance can be found here.


April 20, 2016 | Kanchi Kohli