Most of the vast number of commodities derived from wildlife and other environmental resources that are traded illicitly across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) of South East Asia have direct or indirect implications for biological threats. The most serious of these is the risk of zoonotic pathogens and their implications for health. Since the 2000s, increasing focus on the role played by transnational organized crime in the illegal wildlife trade has resulted in such forms of crime being tackled through a number of security approaches, but primarily through law enforcement interventions. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to explore alternative strategies, namely ones that focus on health risk. Health is increasingly now recognised as a critical requirement for global security, as guaranteeing the public health of nations is critical for security and stability. Illegal trafficking of wildlife and timber are the most commonly referenced forms of environmental crime. However, there is an expanding suite of other kinds of environmental crimes that are both transnational in nature and have significant implications for biological threat in terms of the risk of contagion. Among these are river-sand mining, illegal jade mining and the destruction of natural habitat under the guise of development.
This event is the opportunity to discuss the analysis of a recent GI-TOC’s Policy Brief – Trafficking of contagion. Environmental crime and biological threats in the Greater Mekong – which explores the relationships between environmental crime, law enforcement and biological threat preparedness and response in the GMS. In the discussion, the authors will share some of the preliminary findings from field research in Vietnam’s border areas with Cambodia, China, Lao PDR which constitutes the next phase of the project.
Welcome and opening remarks from the Moderator – Simone Haysom, Thematic Lead on Environmental Crime, GI-TOC
Policy Brief presentation – Dr Nicholas Thomson, Senior Research Fellow, College of the Asia Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra and Dr Hai Thanh Luong, Research Fellow in Cyber Criminology, School of Social Science, the University of Queensland; Associate Research Fellow, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University, Melbourne; Member of GI-TOC’s Network of Experts
Response from Valentina Pancieri, Regional Coordinator – Law Enforcement and Training Affairs, Border Management Programme, UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific; and Giovanni Broussard, Programme Regional Coordinator Asia-Pacific, Environment Team, UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Q&A with the audience
Closing remarks from the Moderator.