Conceptualising and combating transnational environmental crime

Abstract

To date, transnational environmental crime has been poorly attended to by the transnational organised crime and transnational policing discourse. Academics have focused on individual elements of environmental crime, neglecting a broader theoretical discussion, while national and international institutions have prioritised other forms of organised crime, giving little thought to the nuanced nature of transnational environmental crime and how this should be reflected in policing and countermeasures. This paper attempts to rectify this by conceptualising transnational environmental crime and suggesting ways forward for countermeasure development. The paper will begin by looking at the problem of environmental crime, its value, scope and effects, concluding that the damaging nature of transnational environmental crime demands a greater focus on its policing. The nature of transnational environmental crime will then be discussed by reference to traditional forms of organised crime. It will be argued that, while transnational environmental crime is a form of organised crime, and has some features in common with the traditional organised crimes, such as drug smuggling and people trafficking, it is the substantial differences that should guide the approach to developing countermeasures. The development of effective countermeasures, it is concluded, requires a significant change in policy at every level.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    I acknowledge that there are various terminologies used to refer to the North/South dichotomy (e.g. first world/third world, developed/developing). In this paper, I follow the practice of the United Nations Development program which, in its 2009/10 annual report, uses the Global North/Global South terminology (UNDP).

  2. 2.

    Manager of Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme.

  3. 3.

    Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species 1972.

  4. 4.

    Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer 1987.

  5. 5.

    Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal 1989.

  6. 6.

    Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemical and Pesticides in International Trade 1998.

  7. 7.

    Stockholm Conventions on Persistent Organic Pollutants 2001.

  8. 8.

    Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.

  9. 9.

    Note that demand for ozone depleting substances will recede due to the Montreal Protocol, as all equipment using the substances will eventually be phased out.

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Correspondence to Glen Wright.

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Wright, G. Conceptualising and combating transnational environmental crime. Trends Organ Crim 14, 332–346 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-011-9130-4

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Keywords

  • Transnational environmental crime
  • Transnational policing
  • Conceptualising environmental crime
  • Countermeasures
  • Demand reduction
  • Supply reduction