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Global Conservation Forum: Wednesday

 

Join a panel discussion at The Explorers Club in New York on Wednesday March 6th about the convergence of Global Wildlife Crime and Human Trafficking, Drugs, and Arms Sales.

Most people have no idea what wildlife crime actually is. Wildlife crime is part of other environmental crimes, including Illegal fishing, illegal mining, deforestation and many other natural resource crimes. These crimes do not operate in a void. They are multifaceted, global, and frequently converge with other forms of organized criminal activity, such as human trafficking, illegal arms sales, and the global trade in drugs. The prevalence and convergence of these transnational organized crimes is exacerbated by government corruption, weak environmental governance, corrupt supply chains, and ineffective monitoring and enforcement.

Globally, it is estimated that crimes against Nature, including wildlife crime and its iterations, has become the largest financial driver of terrorism and other forms of conflict in the world, generating $110-$281 billion in annual criminal proceeds with an indirect impact of $1-2 trillion.

 Wildlife crimes threaten not only species and human survival — especially the lives of indigenous peoples and other environmental defenders — but also degrade the range of functions that biodiversity provides to ecosystems – exacerbating climate change and fundamental environmental processes essential to a stable, resilient planet.

Panelists:

  • Andrea Crosta, founder of Earth League International (ELI)
  • Keith McKinney, Chief of Environmental and Wildlife Crime Unit – Homeland Security Investigations
  • Luis E Fernandez, Executive Director, Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (CINCIA)
  • Monique Sosnowski, 2024 EC50 Honoree and wildlife crime and security specialist
  • Danielle Kessler, U.S. Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)

Moderator: Vanda Felbab-Brown, Director for the Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors and Co-Director for the Africa Security Initiative, Brookings Institution

 


RESERVATIONS

This will be an in-person lecture at Explorers Club Headquarters.

In-person tickets are $30, tickets for both Global Conservation Forum days are $50.

Check-in will begin at 6:00 pm, with a beer and wine reception from 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Speakers

Moderator: Vanda Felbab-Brown

Dr. Vanda Felbab-Brown is a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution where she directs The Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors and co-directs the Africa Security Initiative. She is an expert on international and internal conflicts and nontraditional security threats, including insurgency, terrorism, organized crime, urban violence, and illicit economies, such as wildlife trafficking and drug trafficking. She has conducted investigative fieldwork on these issues around the world. Dr. Felbab-Brown is the author of five books – The Extinction Market: Wildlife Trafficking and How to Counter It (Hurst-Oxford, 2017); Militants, Criminals, and Outsiders: The Challenge of Local Governance in an Age of Disorder (Brookings, 2017; co-authored with Shadi Hamid and Harold Trinkunas); Aspiration and Ambivalence: Strategies and Realities of Counterinsurgency and State-Building in Afghanistan (Brookings, 2013); Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs (Brookings 2010), as well as numerous academic and policy articles, reports, op-eds, and blogs. A frequent commentator in U.S. and international media, Dr. Felbab-Brown regularly provides U.S. congressional testimony on these issues. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of her scholarly and policy contributions. Dr. Felbab-Brown received her Ph.D. in political science from MIT and her B.A. in government from Harvard University. She has researched and written extensively about various aspects of poaching, wildlife trafficking and illegal logging as well as the effectiveness of various conservation efforts. Some of her recent reports and articles include “China-linked Wildlife Poaching and Trafficking in Mexico,” and “Preventing Pandemics Through Biodiversity Conservation and Smart Wildlife Trade Regulation.”

Andrea Crosta

As a pioneer in the use of professional intelligence to fight environmental crime in some of the most complex regions in the world, Andrea Crosta’s work not only contributes to a better understanding of the role of transnational organized crime behind the criminal exploitation of nature but also of the convergence with other serious crimes, such money laundering, human trafficking, and corruption.

Andrea’s visionary leadership has been a driving force in revolutionizing the fight against environmental crime on a global scale, the 4th largest criminal enterprise in the world. Through Earth League International’s (ELI) field investigative initiatives and research efforts, Andrea has spearheaded many groundbreaking strategies to dismantle criminal networks engaged in wildlife trafficking, illegal fishing, and deforestation. 

Andrea’s role as a catalyst for change extends beyond his operational achievements. His advocacy efforts have ignited global awareness about the urgency of addressing environmental crimes. His work has been featured in two of the most important environmental documentaries of the past few years, the Netflix’s documentary ‘The Ivory Game’, and the Disney/National Geographic’s documentary ‘Sea of Shadows’, both executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. Crosta’s work and life were also featured in The New Yorker’s cover story on May 22, 2023.

Keith McKinney

Keith McKinney has over 30 years’ experience in law enforcement at the state, federal, and international levels.  He began his career as a police officer and detective in Virginia before joining the federal government as a special agent in 2000.  During this period, he served in offices located in France, Taiwan, Belgium, New York, and Washington, DC.  In June 2023, he was selected as the first Unit Chief to the Wildlife and Environmental Crimes Unit. The unit was developed to utilize Homeland Security Investigations unique authorities, global footprint, and robust partnerships to address the criminal convergence and security threats posed by wildlife trafficking and environmental crimes.

Luis Fernandez

Luis Fernandez is a tropical ecologist and an expert on illegal Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining, and the other illicit networks that illegal gold aids and abets in the Amazon Region. Luis is a Research Professor of Biology at Wake Forest University, a Fellow at the Sabin Center for Environment and Sustainability, and a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University. He is also the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Amazonian Scientific Innovation (a research center based in the Peruvian Amazon that studies the environmental impacts of illegal gold and mercury, and the use of innovation to accelerate the conservation and recovery of damaged rainforests).

Monique Sosnowski

2024 EC50 Honoree

Monique is a wildlife crime and security specialist who merges her hands-on experience in wildlife crime analysis and prevention with field conservation. Her work in this field is reflected in her over two dozen academic articles, reports, and book chapters, alongside a co-authored book on African security and politics in Benin, published March 2024. With nearly a decade of research experience on wildlife crime and prevention in Africa, Monique focuses on integrating academic insights into practical field operations to ensure they are evidence-based and optimally effective. She has received grants from the US Department of State, PEW Charitable Trusts, and has been recognized by the UNODC’s Education for Justice Initiative. Monique holds an MSc in Global Wildlife Health and Conservation and has completed her PhD in criminal justice with a focus on the assessment of field tactics and environments for the improvement of wildlife crime prevention. She is currently an assistant professor in the criminal justice department at Farmingdale State College SUNY in New York where she teaches and undertakes her research endeavors.

Danielle Kessler

Danielle Kessler leads policy and campaign work for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in the United States, which includes efforts to save the North Atlantic right whale, combat wildlife trafficking, ban the private ownership of big cats, and protect and strengthen bedrock environmental laws. Prior to joining IFAW, Danielle lead communications in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) International Affairs Program, with a focus on engaging stakeholders subject to FWS’s regulatory mandates, educating about the importance of conservation programs around the globe, and establishing strategic partnerships to combat wildlife trafficking. She served on the US government delegation to the 16th and 17th meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), where the US helped to secure increased protections for species including sharks, turtles, and pangolins. She helped plan and execute the US destruction of nearly 6 tons of confiscated ivory in November 2013, which catalyzed a series of similar events around the globe.

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