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The Nature Crime Alliance welcomes UNEP as a member

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the latest organisation to join the Nature Crime Alliance – a global, multi-sector network that aims to raise political will, mobilise financial commitment, and bolster operational capacity to fight nature crime. 

As the global authority for the environment, UNEP runs a range of initiatives focusing on climate, nature, pollution, and sustainable development. UNEP’s ongoing work to protect the environment will be supported through the Alliance, which brings together a wide range of actors fighting nature crime around the world. 

The Alliance was co-created in recognition that current efforts to tackle nature crime are fragmented. It aims to catalyse collaboration between governments, law enforcement, international and civil society organisations, Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and the private sector. It’s current Co-Chairs are Norway and the United States. 

Elizabeth Mrema, UN Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UNEP, said: “UNEP recognizes the critical importance of addressing nature crime, a menace that threatens environmental sustainability, peace, security, and the rule of law globally. 

“Joining the Nature Crime Alliance aligns with our strategic objectives, and I believe it will significantly enhance our joint efforts, especially in light of our commitment to the UN Common Approach to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework.”

Assistant Secretary General Mrema will be speaking at the upcoming UN Environment Assembly side event, ‘Joint Action Against Nature Crime: A Pathway to Achieving Biodiversity, Climate and Sustainable Development Goals,’ which convenes at UNEA-6 on Thursday 29 February, 18:30 EAT in Conference Room 1.

Yulia Stange, Director of the Nature Crime Alliance, commented: “It will not be possible to meet global environmental commitments without addressing nature crime. With a broad scope across climate and environmental issues, UNEP will add tremendous value to the Alliance as we work together to eradicate nature crime and the damage it wreaks upon people and planet.” 

To find out more, please contact Luke Foddy, Communications Manager: luke.foddy@wri.org

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Alliance supports European financial crime detection with new Regional Dialogue

The first European Regional Private Sector Dialogue on Disruption of Financial Crimes related to Environmental Crimes convened on Friday 16 February.

Chaired by Dr Marcus Pleyer, Deputy Director General of the German Ministry of Finance and former Financial Action Task Force President (2020-2022), the meeting brought together representatives from financial intelligence units, law enforcement, the private sector, and subject matter experts to share insights and practical information aimed at improving the detection and disruption of illicit financial activities linked to nature crime.

The session was the second of a new series of Regional Dialogues that fall under the auspices of the Global Private Sector Dialogue organised by UNODC and the Nature Crime Alliance in collaboration with INTERPOL. The first session, focused on Southern Africa, met in Cape Town in January 2024.

The Dialogues are part of the Nature Crime Alliance’s ongoing work to bolster capacity across the private and public sectors to tackle financial crime related to nature crime.

For more information, contact Lynn Schlingemann, Senior Associate, Financial Crime and Corruption, Nature Crime Alliance: lynn.schlingemann@wri.org

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UNEA6 side event – Joint Action Against Nature Crime: A Pathway to Achieving Biodiversity, Climate and Sustainable Development Goals

Ministers and representatives from governments, international organisations, and civil society will explore how multi-sector collaboration in the fight against nature crime can inform wider efforts to tackle the triple planetary crisis during an official side event at the upcoming UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) in Nairobi.

Joint Action Against Nature Crime: A Pathway to Achieving Biodiversity, Climate and Sustainable Development Goals, convenes on Thursday 29 February (18:30 EAT, Conference Room 1), and will feature ministers and officials from Norway, the United States, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and France (see all speakers below).

Nature crime – which includes illegal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, and crimes associated with fishing – is driving environmental degradation and biodiversity loss; devastating local communities; fueling financial crime and corruption; and challenging the rule of law.

As governments and actors around the world strive to tackle the triple planetary crisis, nefarious criminal networks involved in nature crime are actively undermining their efforts. It will not be possible to achieve our global environmental goals without addressing the scourge of nature crime.

Driving global collaboration: The Nature Crime Alliance

The side event will highlight the work of the new Nature Crime Alliance – a global, multi-sector network that is building the international collaboration needed to tackle nature crime. The Alliance’s overall aims are to raise political will, mobilise financial commitment, and bolster operational capacity to fight nature crime on a global scale.

The session, held in partnership between the Alliance’s Co-Chairs, Norway and the United States, and the Secretariat, WRI and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will showcase how greater global collaboration is bolstering efforts to protect people and planet. The side event will also include the announcement of new Alliance members.

Connecting actors to drive positive change

Bringing together a range of actors from different sectors, the session will unpack the complexities of nature crime and explore how joint action is providing solutions to this key global challenge.

How do nature crimes converge with other serious orgnaised crimes? What is the impact on local communities and Indigenous Peoples, and what role can these groups play in countering nature crime? And how are law enforcement actors in different countries working together to identify, target and successfully prosecute the criminal networks involved? These are some of the questions that will be addressed during remarks, high-level statements, and panel sessions featuring representatives from the US, Norway, Ghana, Malawi, France, Kenya, UNODC, Interpol, UNEP, TRAFFIC, the Basel Institute on Governance, and Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI).

Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO, Global Environment Facility, will provide closing remarks.

See the full the agenda and speakers on the UNEA website here

The side event takes place during UNEA-6. Only delegates attending the Assembly will be able to access the venue.

For more information, please contact Luke Foddy, Communications Manager, Nature Crime Alliance: luke.foddy@wri.org

Confirmed speakers

Andreas Bjelland Eriksen
Minister of Climate and Environment, Minister of Climate and Environment – Norway

Jennifer R. Littlejohn
Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Department of State, United States

Hans Brattskar
Special Envoy, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

Michael Usi
Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Malawi

Hervé Berville
Minister of State for Marine Affairs and Biodiversity, France

Silvia Museiya
Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife, Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife & Heritage, Kenya

John M. Allotey
Chief Executive of Forestry Commission, Ghana

Elizabeth Mrema, Deputy Executive Director, UN Environment Programme

Neil Walsh, Regional Director for East Africa, UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Amanda Cabrejo le Roux
Senior Specialist, Green Corruption, Basel Institute on Governance

Joan Carling
Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Rights International

Taye Teferi
Policy and partnership coordinator, Senior Reginal Director, TRAFFIC

Aphrodite Smagadi
Legal Officer, UN Environment Programme

David Migwi
Operations Coordinator Wildlife Crime, INTERPOL

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Southern Africa Dialogue aims to improve detection and disruption of financial flows linked to nature crime

Financial crime analysts, industry experts and law enforcement officers from across Southern Africa assembled in Cape Town last week for the first in a new series of regional meetings aimed at tackling illicit financial flows associated with nature crime.

The Southern Africa Regional Private Sector Dialogue on Disruption of Financial Crimes related to Environmental Crimes convened on 24 and 25 January, and brought together around 50 representatives from national authorities, including financial intelligence units and law enforcement, and the private sector – as well as subject matter experts – to strengthen collaboration and improve their capacity to detect and respond to financial crimes linked to nature crimes. The Southern Africa Dialogue included participants from a range of countries including Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

The Regional Southern Africa Private Sector Dialogue was chaired by John Edward Conway, Global Head of Financial Crime Compliance Framework and Policies at Santander Bank, and was co-chaired by Lynn Schlingemann, Senior Associate, Financial Crime and Corruption, Nature Crime Alliance. 

The Regional event falls under the auspices of the Global Private Sector Dialogue organised by UNODC and the Nature Crime Alliance in collaboration with INTERPOL.

Schlingemann also spoke at a Nature Crime Alliance side event on corruption and forest loss at the UNCAC COSP10 in December 2023.

For more information about the Dialogue, contact: lynn.schlingemann@wri.org

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FishWise joins the Nature Crime Alliance

The Nature Crime Alliance is proud to welcome FishWise as its latest member.

FishWise works with the seafood industry to sustain ocean ecosystems and the people who depend on them, with a focus on transforming global seafood supply chains. Working closely with industry, FishWise develops sophisticated and diverse solutions to address the environmental and human rights challenges in seafood sustainability.

Crimes associated with fishing are among the issues that the Nature Crime Alliance focuses on, with an initial fisheries working group established in 2023. The working group convenes a range of organisations focused on tackling illegal fishing to improve coordination and create solutions to the challenges posed by fisheries crime.

On joining the Alliance, the Executive Director of FishWise, Jenny Barker, said: “FishWise recognizes intractable problems, like corruption and lack of global authority to address illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, require broad coalitions. Players must be motivated, coordinated, and empowered with sufficient information in order to act. We are happy to join the Nature Crimes Alliance to support such action.”

Yulia Stange, Director of the Alliance, commented: “The scale and complexity of the fisheries sector present major challenges in identifying and tackling illegal activities that have profound impacts on communities and marine biodiversity. If we are to make headway, it is essential to bring organisations together to increase collaboration and share expertise.

“Given their multi-sector scope and connections within the fishing industry, we are delighted to welcome FishWise as a member of the Nature Crime Alliance.”

To find out more about the benefits of joining the Nature Crime Alliance, please email secretariat@naturecrimealliance.org

Learn more about FishWise at www.fishwise.org

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WATCH: Meet the Nature Crime Alliance webinar

The Nature Crime Alliance Secretariat convened a webinar on Wednesday 20 December to look ahead at the Alliance’s plans for 2024, and to showcase the work of Alliance members who are actively fighting nature crime.

The session heard from three Alliance members who shared insights on their work and the issues they are addressing:

Jenna Robertson, Intelligence Manager, Marine Investigations, WJC, presented findings from WJC’s recent report, ‘Convergence of Wildlife Crime with Other Forms of Organised Crime: A 2023 Review.’

Andrea Crosta, Founder and Executive Director, Earth League International, discussed criminal networks with significant environmental crime convergences.

Braddock Spear, Global Policy Director, North America, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP), shared the latest on Universal Fishery IDs – a collaboration between SFP and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization – to ensure discussion and data-sharing across the seafood industry, governments, NGOs, and other stakeholders to increase transparency and more targeted interventions against crimes associated with fishing.

Yulia Stange, Director of the Nature Crime Alliance, also provided an update on the next steps for the Alliance, including opportunities to engage with upcoming working groups.

If you are an Alliance member and would like to take part in future webinars, please contact luke.foddy@wri.org

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Forest loss and corruption: Alliance hosts side event at UNCAC CoSP10

As a legally-binding treaty, the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) is one of the best tools we have in the fight against corruption. At the UNCAC Conference of the States Parties (COSP10) in Atlanta (11-15 December 2023), UNODC held a special session on fighting corruption to protect the environment. The Nature Crime Alliance co-organised a side event focused on forest loss and corruption during this ‘mega event’, with the Alliance’s Lynn Schlingemann, Senior Associate, Financial Crime and Corruption, sharing insights on the panel.

Moderated by Martha Chizuma, Director-General of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau, the session featured case studies from Brazil presented by Renato Madsen Arruda, Coordinator-General for the Protection of the Amazon, the Environment and Historical and Cultural Heritage, Federal Police, Brazil, and Edson Fábio Garutti Moreira, Head of Institutional Coordination Unit at Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

Erica Hanichak, Government Affairs Director at the FACT Coalition, spoke to the Coalition’s recent Dirty Money report, while Ketakandriana Rafitoson, Vice-Chair, Transparency International, and Executive Director, Transparency International Madagascar, shared thoughts on TI’s work in this space. Findings from a new UNODC report were also discussed by Pierre Bertels, a diplomat from the Embassy of Belgium in Vienna, before Mats Benestad, Director of Research Policy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, gave the closing remarks.

We highly recommend catching up on the other side events during the session, which were organised by UNODC and the Basel Institute alongside a range of partners including members of the UNCAC Coalition Working Group on Environmental Crime and Corruption.

View the sessions on the Basel Institute’s YouTube channel.

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Alliance to lead deforestation and corruption session at UNCAC CoSP10

The Nature Crime Alliance will be leading a side event at the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Conference of the States Parties (CoSP) in Atlanta on 13 December.

Government and law enforcement officials will be joined by civil society figures to explore corruption associated with various forms of illegal deforestation, drawing upon cases from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. The side-event forms part of the CoSP’s official technical session on combatting corruption to protect the environment, which also includes a high-level panel session earlier in the week (Monday 11 December).

Moderated by Martha Chizuma, Director-General of Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau – who will also share insights from her work – the side event, ‘Forest Loss and Corruption’, aims to highlight success stories for tackling corruption linked to illegal deforestation.

Case studies from Brazil will be presented by Renato Madsen Arruda, Coordinator-General for the Protection of the Amazon, the Environment and Historical and Cultural Heritage, Federal Police, Brazil, and Edson Fábio Garutti Moreira, Head of Institutional Coordination Unit at Brazil’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security.

Delegates will also hear from Erica Hanichak, Government Affairs Director at the FACT Coalition, who will speak to the Coalition’s recent Dirty Money report, while Ketakandriana Rafitoson, Vice-Chair, Transparency International, and Executive Director, Transparency International Madagascar, will share thoughts on TI’s work in this space, drawing on examples from the Practitioners Forum for Environmental Corruption. Findings from a new UNODC report will also be discussed by Pierre Bertels, a diplomat from the Embassy of Belgium in Vienna.

Lynn Schlingemann, Senior Associate on Financial Crime and Corruption at the Nature Crime Alliance, will discuss the role of financial institutions in tackling corruption linked to environmental crime, with a particular focus on Europe, ahead of closing remarks from Mats Benestad,  Policy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.

The session is available to follow via Zoom for those not attending the CoSP. Register to join via Zoom here. Interpretation will be available.

When: Wednesday 13 December, 09:00-09:50 EST

Where: UNCAC CoSP10, Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, United States
(Room: Seattle A302) and online.

For more information, please contact Luke Foddy, Communications Manager, at luke.foddy@wri.org.

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WATCH: The official launch of the Nature Crime Alliance

The Nature Crime Alliance officially launched during the GEF Assembly in Vancouver on 23 August, 2023. Watch the event in full below.

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Governments, law enforcement, and civil society organisations form new global initiative to fight nature crime

MEDIA RELEASE

VANCOUVER (August 23, 2023) — A new global initiative that is building bridges across disciplinary, geographic, and jurisdictional domains in the fight against nature crime officially launches today.

The governments of Norway, the United States, and Gabon are the first to join the Nature Crime Alliance – a global, multi-sector network that raises political will, mobilises financial commitment, and bolsters operational capacity to fight nature crime and the international criminal activities with which it converges. 

The Alliance’s inclusive approach also welcomes the involvement of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol, along with frontline defenders, civil society organisations, and private sector representatives, underscoring the significance of collaborative multi-sectoral action in safeguarding people and planet.

Nature crime – a term encompassing criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, crimes associated with fishing, and the illegal activities with which they converge

– stands as one of the largest illicit economies in the world, presenting serious environmental, economic and security challenges for governments, communities and businesses alike.

Recognising the urgency and complexity of the issue, the Nature Crime Alliance emerges as a crucial network that seeks to enhance collaboration and coordination between organisations fighting nature crime. Hosted by World Resources Institute (WRI), the Alliance aims to mobilise governments and other non-state actors to scale up efforts to disrupt the criminal networks perpetrating these crimes globally.

The Alliance was officially launched during a side event at the GEF Assembly in Vancouver today. The launch event brought together representatives from a wide range of sectors to discuss how the Alliance can energise the global response to nature crime. A joint statement – the Vancouver Statement on Nature Crime – was also issued by founding members of the Alliance.

Comments from across the sectors in the Nature Crime Alliance

Jennifer R Littlejohn, Acting Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, US State Department, said:

“Nature crimes threaten our collective security. They undermine the rule of law, fuel corruption, destroy ecosystems, and drive species to the brink of extinction—all the while providing billions of dollars to transnational criminal syndicates that prey upon the world’s most vulnerable populations. We all must stand together to stop the criminals who are threatening the health of our planet – and that is why the United States is proud to support the Nature Crime Alliance.”

Hans Brattskar,  Norway’s Special Envoy for Climate and Environment, said:

“Nature is under extreme pressure from illegal human activities. If the world is to meet the global goals of the Paris Agreement and the Global Biodiversity Framework, illicit exploitation of natural resources must come to an end. Norway has been a firm supporter of the Nature Crime Alliance since its inception and we are eager to begin this work together with partners from across the globe.”

Ghada Waly, Executive Director of UNODC, said:

“Organised crime groups are desecrating nature’s fragile ecosystems by engaging in wildlife trafficking, illegal mining, waste trafficking, and other illicit activities. It’s time for global action to end the criminal exploitation and degradation of nature for financial gain. Through our global field presence and long-standing experience in delivering technical assistance and capacity-building support, UNODC can provide law enforcement with the tools and expertise to tackle the criminal networks behind these crimes and preserve our planet for future generations.”

Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, World Resources Institute (WRI) said:

“Complex global challenges such as nature crime cannot be solved in isolation. The Nature Crime Alliance seeks to drive greater collaboration across different sectors and disciplines to  help eradicate crimes against people and planet. WRI is proud to host the Alliance as it builds a global, multi-sector response to nature crime.”

Joan Carling, Executive Director, Indigenous Peoples Rights International, said:

“The persistent misconception of Indigenous Peoples as perpetrators of nature crime needs to change towards building partnerships with these communities as stewards of nature.

“The importance of the Nature Crime Alliance for us is that it respects Indigenous Peoples’ rights, recognising the value of traditional knowledge and skills in developing conservation measures and strategies that strengthen law enforcement and monitoring.”

Joe Walston, WCS Executive Vice President for Global Conservation Programs, said:

“For too long, we have ignored conservation crimes and the impacts they have had on people, especially the most vulnerable, and to the planet. There has never been a more urgent need for the Nature Crime Alliance, which is working across intergovernmental treaties, agreements, and organizations to prevent, disrupt, and prosecute these crimes to the fullest.”

Yulia Stange, Director of the Nature Crime Alliance, said:

“The Alliance has identified several areas in which its collaborative, multi-sector approach can have a major impact in the fight against nature crime. These include projects to identify and disrupt financial flows linked to nature crime; efforts to accelerate the development and uptake of innovative tools and technology; and work to strengthen the capacity of frontline defenders, such as Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

“The diverse range of participants in the Alliance reflects a growing consensus around the challenges posed by nature crime, and a determination to eradicate these crimes globally.”

-End-

Organisations that wish to join the Alliance can find out how to do so by visiting naturecrimealliance.org

For more information about this media release, including interview requests, please contact Luke Foddy, Nature Crime Alliance Communications Associate, at: luke.foddy@wri.org

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