Tuesday, March 15, 2016 was organized by Thomson Reuters and the FITS (International Forum for Security Technology) a conference on environmental crime.
A crime increasingly worrying
From the start, gentlemen Neyret Lawrence, Professor of Law at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin, and Damian Martinez, Europe Director of Thomson Reuters, have set the debate by emphasizing its major challenges:
“Worldwide, illicit activities that threaten the environment are growing at an alarming rate, as we think of the protected species trafficking, waste trafficking, illegal fishing or deforestation, illegal logging precious metals, or deception as to the environmental quality of certain products. The profits from crimes against the environment would be between 70 and 210 billion dollars annually and represent the fourth largest source of illegal income for organized crime. ”
“If only one of the direct or indirect suppliers, a company is involved in this criminal activity, the whole chain of suppliers that can be challenged, as demonstrated by recent litigation.
It is therefore imperative that the relevant departments of financial institutions and businesses seize these issues, because of not only their moral implications, but because environmental crime exposes them to reputational risk and a serious financial risk. ”
To better understand the issues of the fight against environmental crime, three panels composed of international experts were conducted around three key themes:
1- Who benefits from the crime?
2- Criminal trafficking, the environment and the company, some examples: protected animal trafficking, illegal deforestation, waste trafficking
3- Environmental crime and corporate responsibility
The trafficking of animals
The second panel concerned especially trafficking of wildlife and forest products. Interpol was represented as well as the police service, OCLAESP. Two NGOs completed this roundtable, WWF Stéphane Ringuet, and IFAW represented by its Director of France and West Africa, Celine Sissler Bienvenu.
André Viau, former Prefect and President of FITS, worked as moderator of this roundtable. He asked me to speak on the subject of terrorist financing. It was an opportunity to go back somewhat in detail by referring to different types of terrorist organizations and by focusing on their financing.
The goal was to address this sensitive issue very clearly being as factual as possible and carefully avoiding any sensationalism. The theme of interactions between terrorism and environmental crime was sometimes treated on the internet and often with many errors.
This public, consisting mainly of large companies and public entities has been very interested in the traffic of wildlife, especially the subject presented by Wildlife Angel on terrorism. Indeed, those present were waiting for reliable information from the field, which, in the opinion of all, is not obvious according to the context of rampant insecurity in most countries. My presentation was to expose the situation of the transfrontier W Park in West Africa, considering the reasons why the park was placed in safe red zone. This decision was taken by the authorities, informed of the presence of units of MUJAO and Boko Haram. Although at present it is almost impossible to provide real evidence of the presence of these jihadi groups in the W park, it is not certain that these terrorist units are not interested in the W. The park could become an interesting base, in this case a safe place to prepare, train, survive and why not finance themselves by shooting elephants and selling the ivory.
A logical action will be taken at this meeting by the Nîmes 2nd International Conference on Environmental Crime, to be held in the fall and during which Wildlife Angel is already invited for an intervention.