While environmental factors are frequently top of mind when developing ESG-related initiatives, organizations may not always consider the impact of environmental crimes, such as illegal wildlife trafficking. These serious but long overlooked financial crimes often converge with other illegal financial activity, including money laundering, narcotics trafficking and human trafficking, which can create significant exposure for financial institutions and other businesses if not addressed.
By implementing certain internal risk and compliance measures and reporting practices as part of their ESG strategies, financial institutions and other corporates can mitigate their exposure to wildlife trafficking and at the same time have a significant positive impact on endangered species and biodiversity more broadly. Change can also happen by organizations engaging in public awareness raising and advocacy and by providing support to public, private and not-for-profit sector organizations working against the illegal wildlife trade. General counsel are integral in leading these efforts and managing any legal and reputational risks that may arise.