Today, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Assembly witnessed the announcement of the launch of the Nature Crime Alliance, a global initiative co-founded by several national governments and nature conservation organizations.
The new alliance aims to combat criminal practices that harm nature such as logging, wildlife trade, land abuse, crimes related to fishing, and to organize a joint effort to stand against this illegal trade that is worth millions of dollars.
Major co-founders of the coalition were the governments of Norway, the United States, and Gabon, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Global Environment Facility, the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime, the Wildlife Justice Commission, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Environmental Investigation Agency and others.
According to a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and International Development last July, environmental crimes are increasing alarmingly, growing rapidly around the world at a rate of more than 8% annually on average, and their value was estimated at between $110-281 billion in 2018.
The report warned that environmental crimes have serious effects on human health and the environment and on the global economy, and represent a threat to national security and sustainable development.
Jennifer R. Littlejohn, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Environmental Affairs at the U.S. State Department, said during her speech that nature crimes threaten our collective security, undermine the rule of law, fuel corruption, destroy ecosystems, drive species to extinction, and give billions of dollars to criminal gangs.
Julia Stange, Director of the Alliance, said that the initiative has identified several projects that it will start working on to combat nature crimes, most notably identifying and disrupting financial flows associated with natural crimes, accelerating 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.
Hans Bratskar, the Norwegian Special Envoy for Climate and Environment, said that nature is under severe pressure from illegal human activities, and if the world wants to achieve the global goals of the Paris Agreement and the global biodiversity framework, it must end the illegal exploitation of natural resources, and that is why Norway strongly supports the Alliance.
Anni Dasgupta, President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, said complex global challenges such as natural crime cannot be solved in isolation, so the alliance will seek to foster collaboration across sectors and disciplines to help eliminate crimes against people and the planet.
This story was supported through Internews’ Earth Journalism Network's Reporting Fellowship to the 7th Global Environment Facility Assembly in Vancouver, Canada. It was originally published by Al-Ain News on August 25, 2023 and has been translated from Arabic and lightly edited for length and clarity.
Banner image: A group photo taken at the launch / Credit: World Resources Institute.