The General Assembly, held between November 16th and 17th, brought together more than 60 representatives of the security forces from most countries of the Union and other cross-border countries, as well as from Latin America (Red Jaguar) and Africa, with the aim of formalizing the Network and strengthening links in the fight against environmental crime.

EnviCrimeNet (ECN), today, is a network based on an EU Council Resolution dated May 20th, 2011. After the appearance of environmental crime on the European scene as a new threat to internal security, it became important to define the role of ECN, since the environmental priority introduces the ‘EMPACT-environmental crime’ in the current Political Cycle, within the framework of which objectives and activities fit within the tasks of ECN.

Several countries already rely on the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Commission, through the LIFE+ SATEC Project, as well as other specialized organizations, such as Europol, which has served as the Secretariat of the Network since its creation.

The 2022 ECN General Assembly, held in Madrid from November 16th to 17th, under the presidency of the Guardia Civil-SEPRONA, has matched the final stretch of the Spanish presidency of the Network, that has been held since 2020 and will face its end on the 31st of December 2022. Additionally, there has been a high work demand due to the completion of the LIFE+SATEC project, the activities committed within its framework, and the completion of the process to grant the Network its own legal personality, as agreed in the previous Assembly, and as included in the new statutes.

During the two days, a selection of topics of great current importance have been discussed and debated. Some of the main topics that were brought up were: the main concerns and challenges that human beings face at a global level in the protection of the environment, the efforts of the Jaguar Network to mitigate environmental crime, waste trafficking, species trafficking, trafficking and illegal trade in fluorinated gases, forest fires, the environmental impact of poison baits and the importance of recognizing environmental crime as a joint responsibility, overall. In the last place, the financing possibilities offered by the European institutions and that can be requested by the member states were exposed, being a point of maximum interest in order to be able to adequately execute the activities and collaborations that were raised throughout the Assembly to a medium-term future.

This year, the assembly’s structure had a more practical approach, and was primarily focused on criminal investigation tasks. The organization of various thematic sessions with a round table format, created a more flexible atmosphere and motivated participation in general, avoiding rigid presentations and giving rise to the exchange of experiences and cases, as well as promoting new spaces for collaboration and «networking», which was positively rated by the participants.

The Assembly concluded with the symbolic appointment of the Slovak representative as the next chair of ECN from January 1st, 2023, and a session in which a critical assessment of the Assembly was carried out, as well as a networking activity, deepening bilateral and multilateral contacts in areas of interest that had arisen throughout the previous sessions.

The contribution of the Jaguar Network countries, the quality of their presentations and proposed themes were highly valued, since they had an impact on the links with transnational crime and its ramifications throughout the world and especially in Europe. The urgent need to collaborate on both sides of the ocean was highlighted and examples were given of how, through the network and later formalized by communications through the SIENA channel, these collaborations have materialized with investigations that are still ongoing- proving the importance of cooperation.

In conclusion, this year’s Assembly has been a success in every respect, and the general feeling overall has been extremely gratifying, with the desire to reinforce bonds between the experts and increase cooperation in the fight against environmental crime across borders.

LIFE+ SATEC is a project funded by the European Commission and coordinated by the company Tragsatec.