07 Nov 2019 Press release Environmental rights and governance

5 winners take home Environmental Enforcement Awards for service to environmental protection

Bangkok, 07 November 2019 – Customs, parks and law enforcement officials from China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Singapore have been named recipients of the 2019 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards. The winners of the Awards are recognized by the United Nations and INTERPOL for their exceptional contribution to fighting transboundary environmental crime.

From taking down a notorious tiger poacher to choking the illegal flow of ozone-depleting substances, this year’s winners have been lauded for their achievements in the categories of collaboration, impact, innovation, integrity, and gender leadership.

“One of the keys to fighting transboundary crime is cooperation,” said Dechen Tsering, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “By working together, officials from across Asia have been able to make a dent in illegal activity that tears at the foundations of society: our planet. We need guardians like them to put paid to the criminal activity that is harming our home.”

Environmental crime is the fourth largest illegal activity after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking. The value of crimes such as illegal trade in wildlife and forest products, illegal waste dumping, smuggling of ozone depleting substances, and illegal mining is estimated at up to $258 billion per year.

The 2019 winners of the 4th edition of the Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards are:

Mr. Ramesh Kumar Pandey, Field Director, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, India

Category: Impact

In April 2019, Mr. Pandey led a team from the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve to arrest a notorious poacher who was wanted by both India and Nepal in 11 cases of tiger poaching incidents and had links with criminal network trading in tigers across the India-Nepal border. The arrest is the result of a thorough investigation and cooperation with the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau in India, INTERPOL and the Central Investigation Bureau in Nepal. Mr. Pandey was also aided by the M-STrIPES App (Monitoring System for Tigers-Intensive Protection and Ecological Status), a mobile application to strengthen patrolling and surveillance of tigers in India.

The Anti-Smuggling Bureau (National Anti-Smuggling Coordination Office) of the General Administration of China Customs

Category: Innovation

The Bureau adopted innovative methods to strengthen its border controls and to identify wildlife smuggling activities, which led to seizures of over 500 ivory items in 2018 and 5,323 ivory items from January to mid-April 2019. The methods deployed included the use of risk indicators and profiles to track postal items, freight shipments and passenger traffic; extracting data from phones of suspects; forensic sampling of large-scale seizures; and the use of CT scans in combination with artificial intelligence to detect small ivory objects in air passenger luggage and postal packages.

Directorate General of Law Enforcement, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Republic of Indonesia

Category: Innovation, Integrity, Gender Leadership

The Directorate General of Law Enforcement, a special unit for law enforcement in the area of transboundary environmental crime, has been selected for a variety of merits. They have been innovative in their use of digital tools, establishing cyber patrols in social media and e-commerce, and using geospatial technologies to capture changes on the Earth’s surface that indicate illegal activity. The Directorate also demonstrated a high level of integrity by identifying and acting on corruption and collusion cases involving its own personnel. Finally, they have actively promoted gender leadership by appointing female officers in management positions and by instituting policies and facilities that support women, such as lactation rooms.

The Lao PDR Joint Inspection Team (JIT) on Inspection of Refrigerants in Domestic Market

(Comprising the Pollution Control Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE); the Department of Domestic Trade, Ministry of Industry and Commerce; the Environment Police Department, Ministry of Public Security; and the Vientiane Capital Division of Natural Resources and Environment)

Category: Impact

Lao PDR established the Joint Inspection Team (JIT) on Inspection of Refrigerant in Domestic Market to address challenges in enforcing a licensing system to control the import and export of ozone-depleting substances. The JIT has employed unique cross-sectoral interagency collaboration and worked closely with local governments to achieve its success. A recent JIT inspection of 3 targeted traders at Kua Luang and Nong Duang markets in January 2019 saw over 706 Kg of smuggled refrigerants confiscated, and the offenders brought to justice.

China-Singapore Inter-Agency Team

(Comprising the National Parks Board of Singapore; Singapore Customs; Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore; Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Fuzhou Customs, Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Xiamen Customs, Anti-Smuggling Bureau of Nanning Customs of China; and National Forestry and Grassland Administration of the People’s Republic of China)

Category: Collaboration

China and Singapore have established inter-agency teams both within and between their countries. Working together to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, they have shared intelligence information and carried out joint operations leading to significant seizures of illegally traded wildlife and to the arrest of criminal networks. Their collaboration has been effective particularly in the seizure of pangolin scales (such as a shipment declared as frozen beef on its way from Nigeria to Viet Nam) and in dismantling and bringing to justice members of cross-regional criminal networks behind the illegal trade in wildlife.



About the UN 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 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards 2019

The 2019 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards are presented by the UN Environment Programme in partnership with the UN Development Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, INTERPOL, the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and supported by the Government of Norway. The awards encourage government officials and institutions or teams in the region to combat environmental crime and reward excellence in enforcement.

For more information, please contact:

Adam Hodge, Regional Information Officer, Asia and Pacific Office, UN Environment Programme,