• 12 September 2019


    Posteado en : Opinion

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    “Environmental crimes have become the third most lucrative crime in the world”

    On the occasion of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, to be held on 16 September, Marc Reina, manager of the Police Cooperation Component of EL PAcCTO, reflects on the need for a strategic and operational framework for a more comprehensive, coordinated and multinational work against environmental crimes.

    Representing an illegal business worth between 110 and 281 million dollars in 2018, according to estimates made by In­terpol and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), environmental crimes have become the third most lucrative stream of illegal revenue in the world, after drugs and counterfeit goods.


    These figures have increased exponentially in recent years, growing by several digits, assisted by an inadequate regulatory system and an offence classification and punishment system which often treats them as civil rather than criminal matters. In addition, allocating police and judicial investigation resources to other areas, such as drug and trafficking in human beings, as well as treating environmental crimes as low risk compared to other types of crime, has created a breeding ground for criminal activity. These organisations engage in illegal mining, deforestation and wildlife trafficking, among other practices, and encourage other crimes such as corruption, money laundering, the hiring of hit men and sexual and worker exploitation.


    Bearing in mind that Latin America represents more than 40% of the world’s biodiversity and that the geographic and political complexity of the region makes effective territorial control by States difficult, the fight against environmental crimes as a whole is a herculean task.


    Thus, it is necessary to develop strategic and operational actions at various levels. On the one hand, strategic development must necessarily entail the creation of an international regulatory framework, either by means of protocols annexed to important conventions such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES Convention), or by creating a new international treaty to serve as an umbrella to protect the environment and provide means for addressing environmental crimes.


    On the other hand, at an operational level and in line with the conclusions and commitments of the Heads of State and the Ministers of the Interior of the seven largest economies  in the world, who met at the G7 on the 4th and 5th of April, 2019, in France, efficient coordination mechanisms and police and judicial cooperation, both national and regional, is required; as well as the creation of specialised multidisciplinary Task Forces and Joint Investigation Teams (JITs). In this regard, the European Union has a significant comparative advantage over other regions, having fostered the development of institutions whose main purposes are coordination, exchange of information and inter-institutional and inter-country work. Examples of this are Europol and Eurojust.


    National agreements against environmental crimes


    However, in my opinion, the most efficient but perhaps most complex action is the search for strategic alliances and National agreements to develop comprehensive public policies. These policies would both prevent and establish the criminal nature of environmental crime, and would include important aspects of the fight against poverty, gender perspectives, the promotion of entrepreneurship, promotion of culture and education.


    National agreements, together with their public policies, must have a majority consensus of the population and be governed by five basic principles: a willingness to provide financing and specific budgets; control and inspection; transparency; good execution; and, citizen accountability.


    In this sense, Latin America has an opportunity, the experience and a duty to take on international leadership when it comes to developing comprehensive public policies to fight environmental crimes more effectively, fostering the transition to a green and responsible economy, as well as sustainable economic growth to generate business and to boost development in communities which are directly dependent on specific ecosystems for their survival.


    This applies to a significant percentage of approximately 60 million people who consider themselves indigenous in the Latin American region. Many of them live in the Amazon basin, which has lost 20% of its biodiversity in the last 50 years according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, 2018), for reasons linked to overexploitation and organised crime.


    Because of their way of life and their number, these communities are key not only to changing economic and human development in many countries, but also to developing new approaches to sustainable economic development, the fight against environmental crime and climate change, taking into account the collaboration between civil society, private companies with corporate social responsibility and the State.


    Economic development vs. protection of natural resources


    At this point, it is necessary to highlight the dichotomy between, on the one hand, excessive economic development at any cost; and, on the other, protection of natural resources. It should be noted that, in part, the increase in illegal extraction of raw materials and deforestation to create of large areas of animal pasture and plantations has been caused by an unbridled increase consumption by humans.


    We have to acknowledge that there are organised criminal groups behind these crimes because there is a specific demand in this regard. Voluntarily or involuntarily. Whether or not the demand is aware of the connection between violence and crime.


    It is clear that all countries and societies in the world have the right, but not the obligation, to economic, cultural, and intellectual development. However, as the impact of climate change is more than evident, we must consider the need to change an unbridled system of economic growth, that allows the emergence of numerous crimes which will end up contributing to climate change and growing violence in countries.


    Therefore, it is necessary to balance frenetic human consumption with the protection of the environment.


    Marc Reina, Manager of the Police Cooperation Component of EL PAcCTO

  • 27 June 2019


    Posteado en : Reportage

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    Protect the environment, an obligation on all of us

    On the occasion of World Environment Day, celebrated on 5 June, and World Oceans Day, commemorated on 8 June, we highlight the situation and the consequences environmental pollution is currently having and how FIIAPP, through various projects it manages, is helping in the fight to protect the environment

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental pollution has reached alarming proportions, in figures, 9 out of 10 people breathe toxic air and 7 million die every year from environmental and domestic pollution.  


    The Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, points out that “air pollution poses a threat to everyone, although the poorest and most marginalised people are worst affected”. In this regard, the WHO notes that over 90% of deaths related to air pollution occur in low and middle income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low and middle income countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Europe and the Americas.  


    Air pollution is considered an important risk factor, especially for noncommunicable diseases. The data show that it causes a quarter (24%) of adult deaths from heart disease, 25% of deaths from strokes, 43% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29% of deaths due to lung cancer.  


    Also, according to a study published in the ‘European Heart Journal‘, pollution is responsible for 800,000 deaths a year in Europe and 8.8 million worldwide.  


    World Environment Day 


    The first conference related to environmental issues was held in Stockholm from 5 to 16 June 1972 under the auspices of the United Nations. This meeting is known as the Conference on the Human Environment and its objective was to achieve a common vision on basic aspects related to protecting and improving the human environment.  


    On 15 December 1972, the General Assembly adopted a resolution that designated 5 June as World Environment Day. In addition, on that same day, the General Assembly approved another resolution that led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). 


    In 2019, World Environment Day has focused on air pollution. “It’s time to act forcefully. My message to governments is clear: tax pollution, stop subsidising fossil fuels and stop building new coal plants. We need a green economy, not a grey economy, “the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, highlighted in his speech.  


    SDG 13: Adopt urgent measures to combat climate change and its effects 


    In order to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at COP21, which entered into force in 2016. In it, the countries committed themselves to work to limit the increase in global temperature to less than two degrees Celsius.  


    The targets that are intended to achieve this Sustainable Development Goal include: strengthen the resilience and ability to adapt to the risks related to climate and natural disasters; improve education and awareness of climate change mitigation; put the Green Climate Fund into operation by capitalising on it as soon as possible and increase capacity for effective planning and management in relation to climate change in the least developed countries.  


    World Oceans Day 


    The United Nations General Assembly designated 8 June as World Oceans Day. The oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface. However, only 1% of this area is protected. In addition, the oceans contain 96% of the Earth’s water and absorb around 25% of the CO2 that is added to the atmosphere year after year due to human activity, thus reducing the impact of this greenhouse gas on the climate.  


    “In the last 150 years, approximately half of live corals have been lost. Pollution by plastic in the oceans has multiplied tenfold in the last 40 years. One third of fish stocks are overexploited. The dead zones – submarine deserts where life does not prosper due to a lack of oxygen – are increasing rapidly, both in size and in number, “said Antonio Guterres. 


    SDG 14: Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources 


    The Oceans Conference was held between 5 and 9 June 2017, it was the first United Nations conference to work towards achieving SDG 14, its objective was to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources through sustainable development. 


    Recreation of kilos of plastics in the oceans, made by Corona x Parley in Madrid




    In addition, this Sustainable Development Goal has a number of targets including the following: prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds; regulate fishing exploitation and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices; conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas in accordance with national laws and international law; and facilitate the access by small-scale artisanal fishermen to marine resources and markets.  


    At present, various brands are reflecting the problem that our seas currently suffer in their advertising campaigns. For example, the Reina Sofía Foundation has presented an animated short film, Lemon, which represents the problem of plastics in nature. 


    According to scientists, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. They also warn that one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year as a result of plastic contamination. And, as if that were not enough, they highlight that microplastics have been found in 70% of the salt, molluscs and crustaceans we consume in our country.  


    FIIAPP and its contribution to the environment  


    FIIAPP manages several projects focused on caring for the environment. The EUROCLIMA+ programme is funded by the European Union and the climate governance component is managed by FIIAPP. It aims to promote environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient development in 18 Latin American countries, because greenhouse gas emissions from urban transport in the region continue to increase.  


    If we talk about climate change, Beatriz García-Pozuelo, EUROCLIMA+ senior technician, points out that “it is expected that by 2100 the temperature in Madrid will have increased by 4 ºC. This means that living in Madrid would be more like living in Saudi Arabia or the Arab Emirates.” 


    In addition, FIIAPP manages Cuba-renewable, a project to promote renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Cuba. This project supports the effective implementation of the policy for the prospective development of renewable energy sources and efficient energy use and an appropriate regulatory framework.  


    “The use of renewable energy has created mountain hospitals, rural schools and, ultimately, allowed the population to access energy in a more equitable manner,” says Maite Jaramillo, coordinator of the Cuba-Renovables project. In addition, she points out that, as Cuba is a country rich in renewable resources, the development of these resources “would make an important contribution to the environment”.  


    In addition, the Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime, El PAcCTO, is implementing various activities among security forces and bodies in Europe, Latin America and internationally in order to promote joint policies to combat environmental crimes.  


    Similarly, the project ‘Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption in Ghana’, ARAP-Ghana, whose representatives at Ghanian Public Prosecutor’s Office and Environmental Protection Agency have visited Spain in order to acquire knowledge and good practices in the field of environmental crimes.