Organised environmental crime is known to pose a multi-layered threat to human security, yet it has long been treated as a low priority by law enforcers, seen as a fluffy “green” issue that belongs in the domain of environmentalists. Once considered to be a relatively small-scale and opportunistic crime, often perpetuated by local communities, illegal wildlife trading now ranks among the most valuable illicit markets in the world.
But due to a variety of factors – including its escalation over the past decade, its links to terrorist activities, the rising value of environmental contraband and the clear lack of success among those trying to stem the tide – these crimes are inching their way up the to-do lists of law enforcers, politicians and policy makers alike. Environmental crimes, by their nature, tend to be concentrated in areas of low population density, in national parks and in remote areas or hinterlands, and can thus continue largely under the radar, inflicting untold damage to national and regional ecosystems. In addition, they result in revenue losses for the state and businesses, foster corruption, and increase overall insecurity.
The trade in ivory and rhino horn between Africa and Asia is also highly organised, and rhino and elephant populations have been dramatically reduced in several regions, most notably in Southern and Central Africa. A strengthened market for ivory in China has again raised the demand and led to significant increases in poaching. Illegal logging and trade in biodiversity products (flora and fauna) are environmental crimes that have existed for decades, but have only become a major concern in recent years.
The Global Initiative recognises that to successfully counter organised environment crime will require a multi-faceted approach that looks not only brings to bear the normative and criminal justice approaches, but that will also address the organised and illicit networks that underpin environmental trafficking, the extensive corruption that enables illicit flows, and which also look at the socio-economic conditions that give illicit trade in environmental products a local legitimacy.
Addressing environmental crime is a priority for the Global Initiative, which we realise through a range of dedicated projects:
The Global Initiative has undertaken a range of catalytic research projects, as well as regularly convening seminars and discussions, drawing up on our expert network to broaden the knowledge basis and catalyse new responses.
At a side event to the UN Crime Congress currently ongoing in Doha, The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and the WWF presented a new report entitled “Tightening the Net: Towards a Global Legal Framework on Transnational Organized Environmental Crime.” The report reviews major gaps and the obstacles in the global legal architecture that stand in the […]
Organized Environmental Crime: A Call to Action Unchecked corruption and sophisticated criminal networks have created an illicit economy in environmental products, which is pushing species to the brink of extinction, transforming thriving rain forests into impoverished wastelands and polluting the environment with toxic waste. Against this backdrop, the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime has developed a baseline […]
On the 8-9th April 2014, the Global Initiative’s Expert Reference Group on Environmental Crime met at the GI premises in Geneva, Switzerland. The purpose of the meeting was to review the Global Initiative’s draft Baseline Assessment of Organized Environmental Crime, and to develop a set of recommendations that draw on the collective and considerable expertise […]
“If we win the war against environmental crime only to discover there are no tigers left, then that will be a hollow victory.” So said John M. Sellar, former Chief of Law Enforcement at CITES, at the launch of the Global Initiative on September 19th in NY. Environmental crime, due to its time-sensitive nature, is a priority for the […]
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