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17 November 2015

Roadmap for environmental security created by INTERPOL-UNEP conference

SINGAPORE – The 2nd INTERPOL-United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference has ended with a blueprint outlining future efforts to enhance environmental security.

The global action plan, based on recommendations put forward by the more than 140 high-level experts from 50 countries and 20 international organizations attending the conference, details a series of steps for improving the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and encouraging close multisector collaboration.

All types of environmental crimes were addressed during the two-day (16 and 17 November) conference, including wildlife trafficking, the illicit timber trade, illegal fishing, pollution crime and the illegal dumping of waste.

Delegates stressed the importance of wide-reaching global intelligence exchange among police and non-governmental organizations to support successful investigations, and the critical role of enforcement in the climate change and sustainable development debates.

In addition, the importance of involving the private sector – such as the transportation industry – in efforts to tackle environmental crime was emphasized.

The action plan focused on four main areas: multi-agency cooperation; police and judicial training; awareness raising; and strengthening legislative and regulatory mechanisms.

Strong national, regional and international enforcement networks encompassing all relevant agencies from law enforcement and beyond were considered as key to enhancing environmental security globally. During the conference, INTERPOL released a directory of existing environmental law enforcement networks to assist all stakeholders in identifying and accessing these networks.

With the complexities of environmental legislation requiring specialized knowledge which does not always exist within police agencies and the judiciary, the need to assist countries in developing robust judicial systems capable of turning investigations and arrests of environmental criminals into successful prosecutions was highlighted. Proposed areas of support include training programmes, guides on best practices and reviewing existing environmental legislation.

To raise awareness of the true scale of environmental crime and provide strong evidence for policy-makers, INTERPOL and UNEP will commence a study assessing the rises of emerging environmental crime threats and conduct regular crime mapping to gain a clearer picture of the global situation.

By encouraging countries to strengthen and harmonize their laws and regulations governing environmental resources, the delegates aimed to create a framework for the effective and coordinated enforcement of the trade in environmental commodities.

David Higgins, Head of INTERPOL’s Environmental Security unit