WRI and partners mobilized a unique coalition of governments and organizations to halt criminal activities responsible for deforestation, wildlife trafficking, illegal logging and more.

The Challenge

Nature crime — illegal forms of logging, mining, land conversion, wildlife trade and fishing — destroys high-value ecosystems and harms the people who most depend on them. It is a critical but underappreciated barrier to effectively address climate change, biodiversity loss and injustice.

Many places central to preserving nature and sustainably feeding the world are rife with corruption and violence against environmental and human rights defenders. Extensive global criminal syndicates linked to financial crimes, fraud, corruption and human rights violations are often responsible for nature crimes.  

While the resources targeted by nature crime lie largely in developing countries, the beneficiaries, including criminal syndicates, rogue corporations, financiers and consumers, are from industrialized economies like China, the European Union and the United States. Solutions must include coordinated, multidisciplinary global action.

WRI’s Role

For three years, WRI led a process to create a broad coalition against nature crime.

We conducted nearly 150 interviews and roundtable discussions with a wide variety of stakeholders, resulting in a paper commissioned by the Climate and Land Use Alliance to educate donors about the challenges of nature crime and potential solutions. WRI established the alliance’s brand and engaged closely with environmental journalism organizations, resulting in extensive media coverage when the Nature Crime Alliance launched in August 2023.

WRI also helped secure membership from governments, civil society, law enforcement agencies, UN agencies and the private financial sector, bringing together the diverse stakeholders needed to effectively curb nature crime.

WRI now serves as host for the alliance secretariat and a technical implementation partner.

The Outcome

The Nature Crime Alliance was formally launched in August 2023. Founding partners included the governments of Gabon, Norway and the United States; the UN Office on Drugs and Crime; INTERPOL; the Global Environment Facility; the International Union for the Conservation of Nature; Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International; and many international and regional NGOs.

Dozens of additional organizations joined shortly after the launch, creating one of the most robust global networks dedicated to fighting crimes against people and the planet. As of late January 2024, six more governments were formalizing their membership.

The Nature Crime Alliance is now moving forward to support a number of activities, including: disrupting the illegal luxury trade in exotic animals; supporting local environmental defenders and journalists helping to expose nature crimes; working with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and major financial institutions and regulators to halt financial crimes linked to nature crime; and engaging global seafood suppliers in strengthening traceability and transparency to suppress fisheries crime and human rights violations.