Current enforcement measures at the national and international levels are insufficient, given the environmental and financial losses caused by transnational environmental crime. Innovative domestic and international enforcement initiatives are required, and sufficient funding must be available for them to succeed.
Gathering and sharing actionable intelligence and targeting enforcement efforts at vulnerable spots in international supply chains is necessary. Innovative enforcement techniques may be used in conjunction with such targeting to promote compliance. It’s also necessary to close loopholes that allow the laundering of illegal substances and party non-compliance.
Enforcement Measures in Environmental Crimes
A coordinated strategy to combat international environmental crime should address the supply and demand dynamics that form an illicit market and enhance front-line enforcement. To increase the effectiveness of global environmental controls, enforcement agents and government officials participate in the discussions to share their experiences. The following are elements that enforcement agents can seldom solve alone but frequently have to deal with the consequences.
- Domestic Enforcement
National laws frequently need to be updated to contain precise descriptions of prohibited behavior, impose severe deterrent penalties, and outline who is responsible for enforcing them at each level of the supply chain. Substantial resources must be allocated to guarantee successful enforcement. Improved enforcement may result in an instant revenue rise when tax evasion occurs.
Lack of specialized knowledge and training may be most effectively addressed by training programs that combine the employment of specialized prosecutors with working with investigating officers with a cascade coaching strategy, followed by refresher courses. Early communication between front-line agents, specialized enforcement employees, and their counterparts abroad is recommended. Contact may be facilitated by frequently updated national and worldwide directories of enforcement experts.
For targeted enforcement measures, criminal profiling is essential. Risk analysis entails gathering data on exporters and importers and combining it with actionable information and enforcement measures to profile illegal goods, trafficking techniques, and potential places of origin.
- Criminal Penalties
Widespread recognition of criminal penalties as deterrence against some of the most serious environmental crimes has played a key role in law enforcement bodies allocating increasingly significant resources to combating environmental crime.
Penalties help establish the severity with which enforcement authorities and the deterrent impact of laws handling crimes. Strict liability processes may be more useful when prosecuting criminal charges is difficult, such as when it is difficult to establish criminal intent to violate the law or to gather proof of guilt to the level of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” These penalize a business or person for failing to perform necessary diligence and work without regard to negligence or maliciousness.
- International Coordination
It is vital for an MEA control system to offer information helpful to enforcement officials in addition to the apparent necessity that nations comply completely with the regime. Collecting and communicating national intelligence on environmental crimes more effectively is necessary to enable coordinated enforcement measures between regions. Other straightforward methods exist, such as Interpol’s “Eco-message” form for reporting or requesting information on environmental crimes requiring cross-border cooperation.
For exhaustible commodities like fish, lumber, and endangered species, where stock conservation is crucial, international enforcement efforts should concentrate on weak links in the supply chain. Sanctioning those lower down the supply chain won’t stop environmental damage. As a result, providing development aid to nations responsible for the administration of the collective good may be important.
It is crucial to comprehend the cultures and “standard operating procedures” of various national and international organizations while fostering international collaboration to guarantee that the contributions of various agencies complement one another. For instance, the WCO does not share information with its member agencies that frequently directly identify suspected offenders, but Interpol does.
- Integration of New Technology
Numerous new technologies can potentially significantly reduce the cost of domestic and international enforcement. Decreasing costs and providing economies of effort on monitoring, compliance, and inspection approaches like Vessel Monitoring Systems and fine-scale satellite monitoring of forestry licenses can reduce the marginal benefit curve of monitoring downward. Despite the immense promise of new technology, technologies won’t be developed until explicit policy demands for their application are identified.
Barcoding and central registries are frequently used to track the sales of goods in high-street stores. Therefore, using them internationally for more precious goods like tropical logs should be normal. The distorted international view is partially evidenced by the fact that technological advancements presently precede governance rather than being influenced by it. Environmental forensics and new enforcement procedures should be developed at multinational centers of excellence to aid this process.
- Strict Compliance
Environmental accords must include elements to promote compliance since non-compliance, and insufficient execution of MEA provisions are likely the major enablers of environmental crime. Since no MEA has given an extra-territorial body direct sanctioning authority, non-compliance processes remain the exclusive domain of the national parties. These actions almost always depend on a decision made by the parties to an MEA.
- Supply and Demand Control
Enforcement may drive individuals out of an illegal market and discourage entry, but it has little effect on the factors of supply and demand that led to the market’s development in the first place. For instance, it may be too late for a specific species when a smuggler is apprehended with tiger skin. Even when deterrent legislation carries the death penalty, illicit actions may persist because regulators and the regulated have vastly different views of risk and timelines.
International environmental crime cannot be resolved in a single, painless way. A more coordinated strategy for regulating the worldwide market for environmental commodities would, however, stimulate a more dynamic awareness of the evolving web of possibilities and rules that need to be altered to reduce levels of non-compliance with environmental laws.
Environmental crimes are serious offenses that pose a significant threat to our planet’s well-being, and they need to be addressed through strong enforcement measures. In conclusion, enforcing environmental laws is crucial in protecting our planet and preventing environmental crimes. Governments need to use a combination of penalties, fines, imprisonment, confiscation, compliance orders, environmental impact assessments, civil litigation, and public awareness campaigns to effectively tackle environmental crimes.