Thirty-eight percent (38%) of global criminal proceeds are derived from nature crimes according to data provided by Interpol.
Across West Africa, recent data further indicates that illicit trade in marine resources, alone, including illegal fishing, is said to cost the region over $26bn annually, in economic and household impact losses.
Speaking at the Solutions Journalism on Nature Crime In Ghana Workshop organised by the US Agency for Global Media, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Jinapor, noted that nature crimes are diverse, and cut across various sectors of our economy, including Land, Forestry, Mining, Environment, Fisheries, Maritime, and Waste Management.
Crimes such as illegal fishing, illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal overland export, under-declaration of products, mislabelling of products, poaching, wildlife trafficking, illicit wildlife trading, and land degradation, he noted, continue to threaten our environment, biodiversity, and the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across the world, while robbing countries of the resources needed for development.
He further noted that nature crimes also, affect global efforts at halting climate change, asserting that nature crimes account for about twenty-six percent (26%) of global emissions, and remain a major stumbling block to attaining the one point five degrees Celsius (1.5oC) target.
“Nature crimes are, largely, driven by greed, corruption, and demand for illicit products, and, mostly, involve cartels that operate across borders, although there are some who are driven by inadequate sources of livelihood. Their impact, like the perpetrators, transcend territorial boundaries, and have cascading effects on our lives and planet Earth.”
“To deal with these crimes, therefore, we require a muti-sectoral and multidimensional approach, as well as the collaboration and cooperation of all, including Governments, the private sector, media, civil society organisations, academia, research institutions, traditional leaders, and multinational organisations.”
“That is why I find this Workshop, which seeks to build the capacities of journalists to understand and inform the public about nature crimes, very apt and consequential; for it is when we understand the issues, that we can play our various roles to fight these crimes,” the Minister noted.
Speaking further, the Minister noted that, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, under the able leadership of President Akufo-Addo, has adopted a comprehensive and coordinated approach to dealing with crimes associated with logging, mining, wildlife, and land conversion.
They include law enforcement measures, policy, legislative, regulatory, and operational reforms, stakeholder engagements, as well as the use of technology to prevent, detect, investigate, prosecute, and punish these crimes.
The Minister urged journalists present at the Solutions Journalism on Nature Crime In Ghana Workshop to create awareness about nature crimes and inform the public about the urgency of the situation, educating the general public on the importance of natural resources and biodiversity, and the debilitating consequence of these crimes on lives and the planet.