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An analytic review of past responses to environmental crime and programming recommendations – Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime

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Simone Haysom
Mark Shaw
Posted on 27 Sep 2022
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) have both released dire warnings, with the landmark 2019 IPBES report concluding that over a million species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. IPBES has also warned that environmental crisis undermines progress towards 80% of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Environmental crime has a key and underappreciated role in this developing crisis.
Our analysis shows that all of the contributing factors identified by IPBES have both direct and indirect connections to criminal networks and transnational criminal flows. We also know that, at its worst, environmental crime is intimately bound up with threats to global peace and stability. It provides a soft entry point into global illicit flows for traffickers, and is often accompanied by widespread human rights abuses and dispossession by criminal networks and actors.
The corruption related to environmental crime can be so damaging that it creates political instability and entrenches systems of patronage or the elite capture of democratic institutions. While there has been a significant increase in multilateral investments in responding to wildlife and timber crime, some of these interventions are themselves producing harms that outweigh or undermine their benefits. Human-rights abuses, such as torture, rape and displacement, are also bound up in militarized responses to environmental crime. All of this points to the conclusion that the international community is still failing to support effective, sustainable ways of combatting environmental crime. There is still much to do and much to learn – all within a narrow window of time. The severity of these problems and the pressing time constraints on responding are linked to their intersection with other crises – a broader global failure to address the drivers of climate change; the rapid growth of organized crime and illicit trade over the past two decades; and the fall-out of the enormous shifts wrought by the greater social and economic integration of globalization, particularly through the changes introduced by digital communication and commerce on virtual platforms. The latter is having a transformative impact on all sectors, not least of which is the illicit trafficking of multiple commodities.
Simone Haysom
Mark Shaw
17 Sep 2018
MMFU, Wildlife Watch
17 Feb 2022
MMFU
19 Jul 2018
MMFU
14 Jul 2022
MMFU, Wildlife Watch, APA-Obs
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