For the first time, heads of environmental, biodiversity and natural resources agencies from across the world have met with heads of law enforcement agencies to craft a global compliance and enforcement strategy for environmental security.
Convened this week by Interpol and the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Chiefs of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Summit drew some 230 delegates from 70 countries to Interpol headquarters in Lyon.
The three-day summit concluded Thursday with an agreement to focus on key environmental crime issues - fisheries, forestry, pollution and wildlife crime, as well as violence, money laundering and tax evasion.
Bernd Rossbach, Interpol's acting executive director of Police Services, said evidence that environmental crime is connected to other forms of serious and organized crime is increasing.
"Interpol has helped to ensure that environment crime has become more mainstream and recognized for what it is, a form of serious, organized and often transnational crime," said Rossbach.
The international police force says the same routes used to smuggle wildlife across countries and continents are often used to smuggle weapons, drugs and people. Environmental crime often occurs hand in hand with other offenses such as passport fraud, corruption, money laundering and murder.
"Interpol has advocated the need for intelligence-led enforcement," Rossbach told summit participants. "This is a response we are familiar with in tackling other forms of crime, but when it comes to the environment, the need for crime prevention is imperative."