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Environmental Crime & Corruption


In August 2017, the Environmental Crime and Corruption (ECC) Working Group met in Nadi and agreed to put together guiding principles for the protection of whistleblowers and encourage the protection of the disclosure of information.
ECC members agreed that the principal objective of a law that protects people who report illegal or other wrongful conduct such as corruption to authorities (making a ‘protected disclosure’) is to encourage members of the public to report such conduct, by providing clear avenues for them to do so, and making them feel confident that their complaints will be investigated and that they will be protected from retaliation.
The guiding principles set out the following:
1. Who should be protected,
2. The types of wrongdoings can be reported to be covered by protection,
3. How should information be reported and protected,
4. Types of protetion that should be available,
5. Approach or investigation methods regarding protected disclosures.
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This strategic priority builds on the work of the earlier ‘Corruption and Proceeds of Crime’ (CPC) and ‘Illegal Fishing’ Working Groups. It will also provide an opportunity for furthering relevant discussions at the 2014 and 2015 PILON annual meetings focused on ‘Combating Environmental Crimes in the Pacific: Issues and Best Practices’ and ‘Protecting Resources to Grow Economies: Regional Strategies.’ The real and immediate importance of these issues to PILON members is clear, from their recent identification as annual meeting themes. This working group will provide a practical forum for further, in-depth consideration of the related issues of environmental crime and corruption, in particular as it relates to vulnerabilities of the natural resources sector to corruption. This work is further anticipated to be guided by and support Pacific implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. At the CPC Working Group meeting in October 2015, participants discussed the ongoing need to address corruption at a regional level with this concern echoed in relevant literature.

In particular, participants were concerned about the underlying causes of corruption and how these may interact with cultural practices. They also sought to consider corruption in the highly vulnerable but critical Pacific natural resources sector. These issues were similarly highlighted by the CPC working group’s Typologies Project Report.

Good governance of natural resources and eradicating environmental crime are emerging as defining challenges of the 21st century and this is equally true in the Pacific. Environmental crime harms individuals, the environment, and wildlife and creates ongoing risks to people and communities. Environmental crime is often hidden with the harm it generates neither known nor manifest for generations. In many cases of natural resource-related crime, the threat goes beyond national borders and involves fraud, transnational criminal networks, and public corruption and creates competitive risks for honest businesses and their employees. One of the most common and persistent natural resource related crimes in PILON member countries is illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing. Similarly IUU fishing has been recognised by the international community as one of the most significant issues impeding the achievement of sustainable fisheries, and as an occurrence in virtually all fisheries.

The recently conducted member survey by the PILON Illegal Fishing Working Group identified the need for: stronger national legislative frameworks to combat illegal fishing; capacity building to support prosecution of fisheries crimes; and opportunities for regional collaboration to enhance national capabilities to address illegal fishing. Further challenges for PILON members include limited financial and technical resources for monitoring and enforcement, the large area of ocean space under their control, and increasing complexity of international fishing operations. A further environmental crime of growing concern in the Pacific is illegal logging, involving a range of crimes related to: extraction and harvesting in contravention of national law; logging without a licence, a fraudulent licence or inside protected areas; crimes associated with processing and transportation; and breaches of import and export controls. The illegal timber trade is also supported by other forms of illicit and criminal activity including bribery, fraud; money laundering and violence. Further, the extent of the trade would be impossible without a well-organized network of shipping companies and agents, brokers and middlemen. Corruption is endemic in the illegal timber trade, ranging from petty corruption of police and customs officials who might destroy evidence or knowingly issue false transportation documents, through to financial involvement at the highest levels of political elites. Greater awareness of environmental crime offences and their links to corruption is needed, with this working group providing PILON members with the opportunity to progress these important issues. It is also clear that cultural dynamics interacting and underpinning natural resources related corruption in the Pacific, require targeted anti-corruption strategies that PILON is well placed to contribute to at a regional level.

Any enquiries regarding our work?

Please feel free to contact the PILON Secretariat.

About the Environmental Crime & Corruption Working Group

Current Chair of Environmental Crime & Corruption Working Group: Nauru
Members: Australia, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia

Contact Us

The ECC Working Group can be contacted via the PILON Secretariat.

Please email or call to enquire.