Addressing the nexus between transnational corruption, environmental crimes, and other serious organised crime at the 21st IACC

The Wildlife Justice Commission was present at the 21st International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), the world’s largest anti-corruption forum that unites all sectors and movements to tackle the challenges that corruption poses to the global order, in Vilnius, Lithuania. Our aim in attending the conference was to raise awareness of the role of corruption in facilitating environmental crimes and to provide concrete recommendations to address these issues.  

Inspired by this year’s conference theme, “Confronting Global Threats Standing Up for Integrity,” the IACC concluded with the 21st IACC Vilnius Declaration, pledging to target environmental crimes as one of its main commitments. We welcome this heightened focus on addressing environmental crimes and look forward to seeing impactful changes resulting from this pledge. 

As part of the conference, we coordinated a workshop titled “Transnational Corruption: Shedding Light on the Networks that Enable Environmental Crimes.” This workshop was part of a series focused on the theme: “Greed and Corruption: A Disease Accelerating the Global Environmental Catastrophe.” The session, moderated by Lynn Schlingemann of the Nature Crime Alliance, featured expert panellists including Tim Steele of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Corruption and Economic Crime Branch, Ian Gary of the FACT Coalition, Kristina Sophie Amerhauser of Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC), and our Director of External Relations and Communication, Lisa Hartevelt. 

Speakers highlighted how transnational corruption facilitates environmental crimes across global supply chains and highlighted the convergence of these crimes with other forms of serious organised crime. Discussions centred on innovative strategies to strengthen law enforcement against organised criminal networks involved in environmental crimes, such as data-driven tools, special investigative techniques, and enhanced cross-sectoral cooperation and community engagement. 

Main recommendations of the panel

  • Enhancing collaboration between law enforcement and financial crime investigators is needed to identify signs of corruption and environmental crime. 
  • Recognising environmental crime as a valuable point of entry into investigating organised crime networks involved in other serious crimes. 
  • Classifying environmental crimes as predicate crimes for money laundering
  • Fostering collaboration and information sharing internationally and across sectors between public institutions, law enforcement, local communities, civil society organisations, and the private sector. 
  • Strengthening anti-money laundering and anti-corruption laws across the environmental sector. 
  • Greater transparency in granting contracts linked to environmental issues. 
  • Promoting good governance and anti-corruption measures, and ensuring local community perspectives help shape these measures. 
  • Strengthening coordination with other international fora and mechanisms, including bringing environmental crime and corruption issues into climate and human rights fora. 
  • Using more and better data on environmental crime that is comparable, accessible, and shareable across organisations. 

Moving forward

Multi-stakeholder alliances and coalitions, such as the Nature Crime Alliance, can foster the necessary collaboration by bringing together governments, law enforcement, civil society organisations, and local communities. Civil society coalitions, such as the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Coalition and FACT Coalition, also offer valuable collaboration opportunities to advocate more strongly for change at multilateral level, which can help with implementation on national levels. The Wildlife Justice Commission co-founded and chairs the UNCAC Coalition’s Working Group on Environmental Crime and Corruption, which brings together over 200 civil society organisations from around the world to lead joint advocacy efforts for strong and coordinated measures to address corruption related to crimes that affect the environment.  

The presence of numerous Working Group members at the IACC was crucial for amplifying our collective voice and driving impactful change to combat environmental crimes and the corruption that enables them. The Wildlife Justice Commission and the Working Group will continue to advocate for strong policy commitments on environmental crime and corruption at the UNCAC level. 

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