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Green Police: 1st Global ‘Environmental Compliance And Enforcement Summit’ Held In France

Whilst attention focuses on the hoopla and razzmatazz of the preparations for the Climate Change summit, Environment News Service reports on a global summit to agree world-wide enforcement of compliance with environmental regulations, a summit which went unannounced by the world’s media:

LYON, France, March 30, 2012 (ENS) – 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.

Whilst discussion was made of such problems as poaching, and trans-national smuggling of rare species and even animal parts for meat, the main focus was on longer-term matters of “environmental security”.  Delegates were told that this included enforcing compliance to safeguard “the air and the water and the biodiversity [and] the ecosystem”. Clearly such an over-arching arena of jurisdiction would need sweeping powers to be policeable, an issue raised by Masa Nagai, acting deputy director with UNEP’s Division of Environmental Law and Conventions.

Nagai recognised that the object of this 1st Global Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Summit was not to sign any treaties there and then but to craft a strategy for recommendation and signing at Rio+20 and – more importantly – the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability being held in Brazil in June. Having been crafted and agreed upon, at these less high profile international summits, Nagai hoped the international environmental compliance and enforcement treaty would  ”provide a platform to identify a way forward to strengthen the entire chain of environmental enforcement”.

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Additional:

Thanks to Alexjc38, we now have further background information on the thinking behind this global enforcement and compliance effort and the probable intended outcome. Alex has kindly provided transcript of a saved interview with Dr Noel Brown, former director of UNEP, Regional Office for North America. In  the interview, Brown is asked about his stated vision of an “Environmental Security Council”. He explains that this council would have plenary powers to enforce compliance with regulations concerning the environment:

Muriel Glasgow: That is so interesting. And then I see – on the website, I was doing some research on you. And you seem to have been prescient. You’ve mentioned something called an Environment Security – an Environmental Security Council of the UNcould become a reality. Could you expound a bit on that, Dr Brown?
Noel Brown: Well, you know, we think of security in military terms. We think of security in war/peace issues. And those will continue, and we should not neglect them. But, in the end, those pale in the face of what is happening to our planet now. That there may be something that we can’t fix with a gun. And there’s something that needs to be enforced. So I feel that just as United Nations created a Security Council with enforcement action, under Chapter 7 of the Charter, we need to create an Earth Security Council. Because, unlike national security, and even international security, Earth security involves not us but future generations, and we have a responsibility for that. And we have very few enforcement measures now, to ensure compliance with what we know are detrimental actions to the future of the planet.

Interview with Dr Noel Brown 13/05/2008 hosted on Yaktivate.com. Thanks to Alexjc38 for the transcript.

Of course, “detrimental actions to the future of our planet”  is a term so broad and sweeping that it can mean essentially anything. Is gas exploration detrimental to the future of our planet? If so, what about someone using more gas than perhaps they should? You can see the extremely problematic implications of this down the road. The guarantee, hitherto, was that personal freedoms and civil rights were guaranteed by the government which could be voted out, or at least protested. But when the laws are set and enforced by the Environmental Security Council of the UN and the local police have no choice but to carry out there orders  – what then?

More information on the upcoming World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability can be found here.