Representatives of the security forces of most of the countries of the Union together with others from cross-border countries, as well as from Africa and Latin America, have come together around the annual Assembly of EnviCrimeNet with the aim of formalizing the Network and reinforcing links in the fight against environmental crime.
On November 16 and 17, representatives from more than 35 countries have shown their support for the consolidation of the first network for the investigation of environmental crime at an international level. The meeting was attended by 22 EU countries, 6 European countries (non-EU), 6 African countries, 5 Latin American countries, as well as Europol, Interpol, Frontex and the European Commission.
The EnviCrimeNet network was created in 2011 by resolution of the Council of the European Union in which the different Member States and the international community were encouraged to strengthen the Network in order to combat environmental crimes through specific measures in relation to different crimes.
Today it begins to be a reality driven by several countries that have relied on the LIFE+ financial instrument of the European Commission, through the LIFE+ SATEC Project, as well as other specialized agencies, such as Europol, which has been the Secretariat of the Network since its creation.
By holding this Assembly, it has shown the institutional support of reference entities that allow synergies to be established throughout the compliance chain, such as IMPEL (Network of the European Union for the Application and Compliance of Environmental Legislation), ENPE (Red European Court of Prosecutors for the Environment), EUFJE (EU Forum of Judges for the Environment). In addition to the above, the active participation of the EL PAcCTO Program (Europe Latin America Assistance Program against Transnational Organized Crime) or the General Directorate for the Environment of the European Commission, have shown ways of collaboration and possibilities of joint action, to tackle coordinated fight against environmental crime.
EnviCrimeNet’s strategy is based on the formalisation of the network as a European non-profit entity, bringing together the capacities of institutions and agencies with competence in criminal investigation of these types of crime, in which EU countries will be offered the status of member of the network, as well as third parties with observer status, with Europol having permanent observer status.
With the support of the LIFE+ instrument, medium-term objectives have been set for the configuration of a Centre of Excellence aimed at improving the investigative skills of officers, providing advice to EU institutions in the legislative field from a law enforcement perspective and strengthening relations with third countries to combat criminal activity in areas such as irregular management and illegal trafficking of waste, illegal activities against wildlife (illegal trafficking, use of poison in the natural environment,…) trafficking of plant protection products, web-based research, etc.
The presence of some Latin American countries (Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama and Peru) has made it possible to continue working together to strengthen the Jaguar Network (bi-regional Latin American-European Union network) focused on crimes related to mining, trafficking of protected species, deforestation, timber trafficking, etc.
These ideas have been shared and discussed with representatives from several African countries (Angola, Guinea Bissau, Republic of Guinea, Republic of Congo, Liberia and Uganda), who have attended as observers to the General Assembly of EnviCrimeNet and who on the 18th have participated in a conference on «Update on the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking in West and Central Africa» held at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Montes, Forestales y del Medio Natural de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (School of Forestry, Forestry and Natural Environment Engineers of the Polytechnic University of Madrid). This conference has been developed thanks to the collaboration of the Jane Goodall Institute in the context of the Spanish Action Plan against illegal trafficking and international poaching of wildlife species (TIFIES Plan), promoted by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.
The meetings and the intense exchange of experiences during these days have generated new ways of cross-border collaboration and have shown the existing synergies with other LIFE projects, particularly the LIFE+ Guardians of Nature coordinated by SEO-BirdLife, and in which the Nature Protection Service of the Guardia Civil and the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge also participate.
This General Assembly has made clear the importance of the work of police officers in the preservation of the planet, and the suitability of creating a coordinated structure at international level beyond the EU, as stated at the opening of the conference by Mr. Enrique Alonso, Permanent Advisor of the Spanish Council of State.