Press Release

Thailand among Asia Enforcement Awards winners tackling scourge of transboundary environmental crime

28 November 2023

Bangkok, 31 May 2023 – Government agencies and officials from Thailand, the Philippines, China, India, and Tanzania were announced today as recipients of the 2023 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards for their standout efforts to combat transboundary environmental crime. The 8th edition of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards recognized action in the categories of impact, innovation, gender leadership, collaboration and Asia-Africa collaboration.

Transboundary environmental crime presents a serious threat in the Asia region. Illegal trade in wildlife undermines conservation efforts, harms economies, devastates livelihoods, and compromises ecosystems on which humans depend. The Asia region is also a destination for illegal transboundary movement of chemicals and waste.

“Governmental authorities working on environmental enforcement issues are on the frontline of efforts to combat transboundary environmental crime. Through this year’s Awards, we are recognizing and celebrating their critical and essential role and effort in doing so,” said Georgina Lloyd, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Coordinator for Environmental Law and Governance for Asia and the Pacific.

The 2023 Awards were organized by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the Secretariat of the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention), the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNEP, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Customs Organization (WCO). The award ceremony was held alongside the Global Wildlife Programme conference organized by the World Bank.

“The work of the award winners transcends boundaries and sets a benchmark for excellence. They are not only enforcing the law, but also safeguarding our environment, biodiversity, and the ecological balance of our planet,” said Akiko Yamamoto, UNDP Regional Environment and Energy Team Leader for Asia and the Pacific.

Jenna Dawson-Faber, Regional Programme Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, UNODC Global Programme on Crimes that Affect the Environment, said that the Asian Environmental Enforcement Award winners “represent the epitome of dedication to our shared values and planet. Their accomplishments serve as a testament to the importance of diversity and thoughtfulness in leadership and the collaborative commitment needed to combat crimes that affect the environment across borders and continents.”

The 2023 winners of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards are:

National Central Bureau Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania Police, Tanzania and National Central Bureau Bangkok, Royal Thai Police, Thailand

Category: Africa – Asia collaboration

The Tanzania Police and Royal Thai Police, collaborating through INTERPOL’s National Central Bureau (NCB) system, successfully apprehended suspects under investigation for wildlife crimes. In July 2022, the Tanzania Police contacted the Royal Thai Police via the NCB system concerning a passenger entering Thailand via Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Bangkok. Upon inspection, 116 live tortoises, with a combined estimated worth of 900,000 Thai baht (approximately USD 24,590 at the time), were found hidden in the passenger’s luggage. Among the tortoises were the critically endangered Radiated Tortoise and Pancake Tortoise. The tortoises were seized, handed over to wildlife officials, and transferred to the Bang Pra Water Bird Breeding Center in Chonburi Province, Thailand.

Ms. Jewel Padullon, Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region XIII

Category: Gender Leadership

Ms. Padullon has played a pivotal role in the series of surveillance and apprehensions throughout the Caraga Administrative Region on the island of Mindanao as part of the implementation of the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ anti-illegal logging activities. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership in investigating highly known hotspots for the illegal sale of Xanthostemon verdugonianus, commonly known as mangkono or “Philippine ironwood,” which is classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Community Rangers Program, Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Peninsular Malaysia

Category: Collaboration

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Peninsular Malaysia Community Rangers program, launched in 2020, is comprised of Malaysian Army and Royal Malaysia Police veterans, indigenous peoples and local communities. In total, some 1,000 community rangers serve across 120 posts to combat poaching and encroachment on protected areas, including national parks, wildlife reserves and forest reserves. The diverse skills and experiences these groups bring have enhanced enforcement, with the initiative working to improve socio-economic conditions and reduce natural resource dependency.

Mr. Jagdish Bakan, Tamil Nadu Forest Department, Wildlife Warden of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Director of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, India

Category: Impact (individual)

Under Mr. Bakan’s leadership as Wildlife Warden of Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park and Director of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve in India, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department has taken concrete action to address the illegal commercial harvesting and trade in sea cucumber. The tonnage of seizures of illegally harvested sea cucumber has increased significantly year-over-year, serving to deter and disrupt transboundary wildlife crime. Mr. Bakan has also initiated enforcement action to prevent plastic from entering the ocean, establishing a self-sustaining and community-operated plastic check posts. Nearly 40 tonnes of plastic waste have been kept out of the ocean thanks to these efforts.

Joint Task Force on Risk Analysis and Enforcement, Anti-Smuggling Bureau, Risk Management Division and Shenzhen Post Office Customs, affiliates to Shenzhen Customs, China

Category: Innovation

Between 1 June 2022 and 30 June 2023, the Joint Task Force on Risk Analysis and Enforcement in Shenzhen, China supervised the customs clearance process of more than 20 million parcels and express couriers. Following initial review, 160,000 of these were targeted and selected for further examination, based on risk profiling and intelligence. As a result of the efforts of the Joint Task Force, 13 parcels suspected of wildlife trafficking were seized and four suspects were arrested in destination jurisdictions, thanks to cross-border controlled delivery.

Philippine National Police Maritime Group

Category: Impact (team)

The Philippine National Police Maritime Group has taken a proactive approach to wildlife law enforcement by actively engaging in cyber patrolling and surveillance on social media platforms. These measures have significantly contributed to the success of entrapment operations, allowing the group to identify and apprehend individuals involved in illegal wildlife activities conducted online. From June 2022 to May 2023, the Maritime Police executed 997 wildlife enforcement operations. These targeted operations led to the confiscation of 3,717 wildlife species. By effectively using technology to gather intelligence, the agency has bolstered its enforcement capabilities, leading to successful operations and apprehension of wildlife perpetrators.


About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

With its Global Programme, UNODC supports just and effective responses to crimes that affect the environment, through comprehensive and coordinated efforts across and between all the actors in the criminal justice chain.

For more information, please contact:

David Cole, Public Information Officer, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

The original press release is published on UNEP.

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