Yesterday in New York, 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 the Nature Crime Roundtable with ministers and senior officials from 11 countries, who gathered to address the challenges that nature crime – criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, and associated criminal activities, as well as crimes associated with fishing – pose for sustainable development, and how to counter that challenge.
After the roundtable, Minister Eide and Assistant Secretary Medina, on behalf of the Governments of Norway and the United States, released the following statement:
We welcome the active participation today by our colleagues at the Nature Crime Roundtable: Raising Ambition to Combat Nature Crime and thank all the participants for their important contributions and insights. As we heard today, nature crime – criminal forms of logging, mining, wildlife trade, land conversion, and associated criminal activities, as well as crimes associated with fishing – gives rise to one of the largest illicit economies in the world, valued at hundreds of billions of dollars annually. These crimes harm ecosystems and local communities, hamper development and pose significant long-term consequences for future generations.
The United States and Norway are close partners in combating these direct threats to nature and people. Nature is but the first victim in this organized, international criminal chain of exploitation. 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.
Roundtable participants noted a variety of effective interventions and investments to combat nature crime but agreed that these efforts fall far short of what is needed to end these illegal activities. To turn the tide, political commitment to combat nature crime must increase by an order of magnitude.
The Nature Crime Alliance would serve as an international, multi-stakeholder initiative to:
- Catalyze political will to aggressively pursue the powerful criminal networks and actors that commit nature crime, working to strengthen the legal frameworks and enforcement tools to that end;
- Engage civil society, technical experts, and law enforcement entities to bolster operational capacity and cooperation to better identify, disrupt, and prosecute the individuals and syndicates controlling nature crime and the other illicit activities it enables;
- Enlist donors, philanthropies, and multilateral organizations to finance and propel this fight to the next level, leveraging resources where these crimes converge;
- Support the rights of Indigenous peoples and the security of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, including women, in their efforts to counter nature crime and strengthen their capacities to conserve, sustainably manage and defend nature, upon which we all depend.