Investigating Crimes against the Environment


Environmental crimes encompass a broad list of illicit activities, including illegal trade in wildlife; smuggling of ozone-depleting substances (ODS); illicit trade of hazardous waste; illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing; and illegal logging and trade in timber. Organized crime organizations, militias and terrorists are destructing natural resources, increasingly benefiting from environmental crimes illicit revenues due to poor governance, law enforcement and corruption. Overall, besides impacting negatively on the natural environment, these crimes embody a growing security and safety threat to worldwide communities and their sustainable development.

Climate change is affecting the economy, health and security of the world population. Atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are significant drivers of global warming. Multiple scientific evidences show that human activity is heavily contributing to the increasing amount of gas emissions from industry, transport, agriculture, waste disposals and other key industrial activities. The effects of climate change ( i.e. glacier retreat, sea-level rise, water availability, etc.) are undermining human rights realization and sustainable development goals, questioning the global distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.

Upon completion of the course, participants will learn how to report on local and global environmental threats, identify reliable sources and interview scientists, acquiring key tools to report compelling news stories and to frame environmental debates. Participants will enhance capabilities to promote environmental protection awareness, meeting world-class scientists and media professionals.


Crimes against the environment and sustainable development

  • Mapping environmental crime (i.e. illicit trafficking and dumping of waste and hazardous material; illegal wildlife trade and forest crime; smuggling of ozone-depleting substances (ODS); illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing)
  • Corruption and crimes against the environment
  • Involvement of transnational organized crime, non-state armed groups and terrorists in crime against the environment
  • Countering environmental crime: governance and international law
  • Environmental crimes impact on the environment and sustainable development
  • Future threats: Ecocide

Environmental governance, international environmental law and climate justice

  • The impact of climate change: scientific facts ( i.e. average surface and ocean warming, ice loss from glaciers, sea level rising, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide atmospheric concentration increase)
  • Investigating climate change: human and natural drivers
  • History of multilateral climate change agreements: from Rio de Janeiro 1992 to Paris 2015
  • International environmental agreements
  • Climate technology mechanism
  • Case study: human rights and environment

Reporting on crimes against the environment

  • Investigating the role of transnational organized crime
  • Reporting on crimes against the environment
  • Environmental data analysis, comparison and sources reliability
  • Case study: future challenges

Promoting awareness on environmental protection

  • Translating scientific knowledge and reports into media messages
  • Framing climate change and environmental justice news and cover stories
  • Ethics in reporting: responsible communication in the media, risks of misinforming the public and policymakers
  • Mock press conference on environmental disasters
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