The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), along with the Italian Ministry for the Environment and with the support of the Italian Ministry of Justice, has organized an international conference: Environmental Crime: Current and Emerging Threats. The Conference will take place at FAO Headquarters, located in Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, in Rome, from 29 to 30 October.
Environmental crimes encompass a wide list of illicit activities, including the illegal trade in endangered species; smuggling of ozone depleting substances; illicit trade in hazardous waste; illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; and illegal logging and trade in timber. The Chair of the conference, UNICRI Director Mr. Jonathan Lucas, emphasises how often such crimes fail to prompt the required response from both governments and the law enforcement community, as they are often perceived as ‘victimless’ crimes and thus rank low on the priority list. In reality, such crimes affect society in its entirety and are increasingly becoming part of the realm of criminal organzations. In search for profits, environmental safety measures and the payment of duties are by-passed, endangered species are decimated and traded in lucrative markets, and to avoid costs associated with the disposal of toxic waste, companies outsource related activities to either less-regulated markets or transporters willing to break the law.
Among the various forms and typologies of environmental crimes, the phenomenon of illegal trans-boundary trafficking and dumping of hazardous and electronic waste (e-waste) is steadily growing. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that 50 million tons of electrical waste is generated globally each year, with just 10% of it actually being recycled. Environmental crimes are trans-boundary by nature, enhanced by globalization with speedy communication, movement of goods and money. A global response is needed to combat environmental crime given the complexity, diversity and multi-disciplinary nature of the crime.
The conference will serve as a platform for competent institutions and experts to discuss how to move forward and address these issues in a more effective and efficient way. The output of the Conference could enable the fostering of an action plan, including recommendations for future initiatives to be adopted and implemented at the national, regional and international level. The active participation of academic and research institutions, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and international organizations will greatly contribute to the preparation of a common platform of action to address the growing threat of environmental crime to the health, peace and security of mankind. The conference will take place over a period of two days. The morning of the first day will be open to both the general public and the media, while the remaining time will be devoted to thematic workshops and the discussion of various aspects of environmental crime.
The Conference envisages the participation of high level representatives of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); the Council of Europe; Interpol; the Italian Ministry of the Environment; the Italian Ministry of Justice; the National Antimafia Bureau of Italy; the Scottish Environment Protection Agency; the Supreme Court of India and Legambiente. Eminent professors from the Universities of Michigan, Oslo and Tasmania will also participate to the Conference as well as representatives form the International Solid Waste Association-ISWA; Consorzio PolieCO and the European Eco- Trust.
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