Law Division


About Law & Environment Ontology (LEO)

LEO aims to provide an agreed to semantic standard for any institution or organization that collects and manages data, information and knowledge in the field of Environmental Law and Governance. The development of a semantic Ontology for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and International Environmental Law was identified as a priority for MEA Secretariats and UNEP at the first meeting of the MEA Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) Initiative. Members to the MEA IKM Initiative agreed on the need for a ‘controlled vocabulary’ to allow for easier searching, locating and retrieving of MEA information such as decisions by MEA governing bodies and meeting documents, reports and national plans. 

Generous financial support from the European Union provided for the review and enhancement of the draft InforMEA glossary through a Multi-Stakeholder process. The MEA IKM Initiative identified the IUCN Environmental Law Centre as collaborator in the development of the next version of the vocabulary and chose the FAO’s VOCbench system as the platform for the development and maintenance of the vocabulary. The IKM Initiative also reached out to organizations involved in the development of thesauri, such as the European Environment Agency’s GEMET, the ECOLEX and the FAOlex glossary.

The MEA IKM Initiative - The MEA Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) Initiative brings together Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) to develop harmonized and interoperable information systems for the benefit of Parties and the environment community at large. The Initiative is facilitated by the United Nations Environment Programme. The MEA Steering Committee meets annually and provides strategic direction. Its Working Group meets periodically during the year and is responsible for the technical implementation of projects.

What is InforMEA?

InforMEA is the first project established by this Initiative. InforMEA harvests COP decisions and resolutions, news, events, MEA membership, national focal points, national reports and implementation plans from MEA secretariats and organizes this information around a set of agreed terms.


The MEA IKM initiative currently includes 43 international and regional legally binding instruments from 17 Secretariats hosted by three UN organizations and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Initiative invites and welcomes the participation of observers involved with MEA data and information, such as the Environmental Management Group (EMG), IUCN, World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL), and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN – Columbia University)

The InforMEA E-Learning tool aims at building knowledge and greater understanding of International Environmental Law (IEL). It provides educational and training materials on IEL concepts and the development and implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Learners can complete one or several courses at their own pace or access individual lessons according to their needs and interests in a non-linear mode at no cost.