Nature crimes - criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, and associated criminal activities, as well as crimes associated with fishing - hurt people and they undermine the conservation and sustainable use of our natural world.
Nature crime is big business for international criminal syndicates. It is astonishingly lucrative, bringing in hundreds of billions dollars per year. It is also enormously destructive, robbing communities of their livelihoods and natural resources, spreading disease, destroying ecosystems and pushing species to the brink of extinction. And it is linked to trafficking in persons, drugs and guns and corruption, extortion and bribery, money laundering, and fraud.
In late September, Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment Espen Barth Eide and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina co-hosted a roundtable attended by ministers and senior officials from eleven countries. The two co-hosts used the event to preview the Nature Crime Alliance, a new collaborative initiative to combat these crimes.
“These crimes harm ecosystems and local communities, hamper development and pose significant long-term consequences for future generations,” said Minister Eide and Assistant Secretary Medina in a statement released after the Roundtable.
Although individual nature crimes are already illegal and prosecuted in most countries, these efforts are often fragmented and not enough to take down these criminal networks. The United States and Norway hope the Nature Crime Alliance will serve as a catalyst to raise political will, and mobilize financial commitment; to engage civil society, technical experts, and law enforcement; to bolster operational capacity to fight nature crime; and to support the rights and security of Indigenous peoples and local communities.
“These criminal activities threaten national security, undermine the rule of law, rob countries and communities of their natural resource base and revenue, drive species to the brink of extinction, and spread disease. They must be stopped and the time to act is now,” said Assistant Secretary Medina.
The joint statement continued: “The syndicates who perpetrate these crimes fuel corruption, financial crimes, including tax evasion and money laundering, and sow destruction everywhere they operate. No country, no land, no waters, no people are safe from their illegal, often brutal activities. We look forward to working with those who joined us today as we further develop a new collaborative initiative – the Nature Crime Alliance.”