Summer Walker

This week, the G7 Summit will be held in the United Kingdom. The G7 ministers responsible for climate and the environment met in advance of this week’s meeting to discuss ‘building back greener’ after the pandemic and released a communiqué with joint commitments.

The ministers’ document provides an ambitious set of pledges – from preserving biodiversity to mainstreaming nature in policymaking. They recognize the challenges posed by both legal and illicit markets, and one of their pledges is to confront ‘illicit threats to nature’. In so doing, they acknowledge that the illegal wildlife trade (IWT), trafficking in timber and timber products and illegal logging, as well as illegal trade in mineral resources, such as precious metals, gemstones and other minerals, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing all have a devastating impact on the natural environment and people’s livelihoods. In the communiqué, the ministers commit to strengthen ‘international and transboundary cooperation to tackle these crimes [illicit threats to nature] and harmful activities’.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC) welcomes this timely commitment. It advances a way forward that recognizes environmental crimes as threats that are cross-cutting and a collective challenge, as opposed to siloed, discrete concerns. The ministers also recognize the significance of addressing criminal environmental markets as part of efforts to confront the ‘interdependent crises of climate change and biodiversity loss’.

In this brief, the GI-TOC sets out four specific action points that the G7 states could consider as critical elements of a toolkit that would tackle illicit environmental markets more efficiently and curtail the wide-ranging threat that environmental crimes pose worldwide: focus on shrinking the consumer base by tackling online markets; reconsider policy responses at the source by engaging local communities; improve targeted law enforcement within a governance and rule of law agenda; and consider sanctions as a part of the toolkit against high-level impunity.

This paper was written by Summer Walker with contributions from Louise Taylor, Simone Haysom, Matt Herbert, Lucia Bird, Marcena Hunter, Julian Rademeyer, Ian Tennant and Alastair Nelson.