David Higgins works for Interpol. He wants the world to wake up to eco-crime, and take steps to prevent it.
Higgins is head of Interpol’s Environmental Crime Programme. He helps police forces around the world when their investigations crimes like pollution, illegal deforestation or trade in animal parts take them across borders and outside of their jurisidiction.
Higgins started as a member of the Tasmanian police force, then moved to wildlife law enforcement for the Tasmanian government, and the the Australian Customs Service, then the Australian Department of the Environment before joining Interpol.
“Environment is interlinked” he said in an exclusive interview with www.off-grid.net. “The land, the water and the air and other natural resources. We need to bridge the gaps between pollution enforcement, wildlife law enforcement, natural resource law enforcement, fisheries enforcement – there’s commonality there. But experts in individual areas are not talking to each other.”
In the United States Interpol eco-cops work closely with Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources.
Ms. Moreno is a leading environmental and natural resources lawyer, with over two decades of experience in both the public and private sectors. She began her career at Hogan & Hartson LLP in Washington, D.C where she practiced with the firm’s environmental and litigation practice groups from 1990 to 1994. President Clinton appointed Ms. Moreno to the Department of Justice, where she served with distinction as Special Assistant (1994-1995), Counsel, and then Principal Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division (1995-2001).
In the UK the main Interpol contact is David Jordan – deputy head of the Environment Agency.
He says that countries around the world need to give themselves the tools to protect the environment now and in the future. His department at Interpol has just launched the NEST programme which is advising countries on how to create joint task forces – National Environmental Security Task Forces,(hence the name NEST) aiming to connect up the many different enforcement authorities across national governments.
The world and its regions needs to start identifying what it s priorities are for law enforcement regarding the environment, Higgins said. At the moment the wildlife agency for example has not come together with the pollution agency to see what the synergies are. They are not speaking collectively.
From a global perspective how are we supposed to work out what the priorities are?
Higgins says British agencies who he is meetingt on his current visit to London, have a good grasp of their priorities but need to come together, pollution, wildlife, natural resources, police and customs, and share those priorities. The Environment has their priorities, DEFRA (the Environment Ministry) has its own priorities. There could be synergies – if they find they share priorities.
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