UNODC Brazil and Ministry of Indigenous Peoples organize meeting to discuss prevention of environmental crimes in indigenous territories.

Brasilia, 5 September 2023 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (MPI) held the "Technical Meeting on Preventing and Combating Environmental Crime in Indigenous Territories" on 5 September at the Indigenous Peoples Memorial in Brasilia.

The event brought together indigenous leaders, representatives of the federal government and the United Nations, civil society, security forces, and environmental inspectors to assess needs and map out possibilities for joint action to prevent crimes affecting the environment in indigenous territories.

The discussions were informed by the results of the joint mission between UNODC and MPI, which took place in June this year in the vicinity of the Kayapo Indigenous Territory in Pará - one of the most affected by illegal mining in Brazil. During the visit to multiple cities surrounding the Kayapó Indigenous Territory, data was collected, and interviews were conducted with indigenous associations, civil society organisations and national authorities working on the issue, which enabled demands to be identified and recommendations to be drawn up.

The mission's findings served as a starting point for the discussions at the technical meeting and were complemented by speeches from representatives of the Wako Borun, Floresta Protegida, and Urihi associations, who described the impacts of illegal mining on indigenous populations and asked for support to stop the advance of organised crime into their territories.

Also contributing to the discussions were representatives from the National Foundation for Indigenous Peoples (FUNAI), the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples (MPI), the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP), the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), the Federal Police (PF), the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office (MPF) and the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA).

The participants shared experiences on topics such as inter-institutional cooperation, strengthening control bodies, the gold marketing chain, and the recruitment of indigenous people by organised crime.

The points raised during the discussions will be consolidated and added to the report of the field mission and could support government actions and technical assistance activities and projects in cooperation with the institutions and organisations involved.

Environmental crimes

The field mission and the meeting to present the results are part of the United Nations' efforts in Brazil to respond to the public health emergency in the Yanomami indigenous territory supported by the Regular Programme for Technical Cooperation (RPTC) of UNODC. Declared in January 2023, the state of emergency led the Brazilian government to request the cooperation of the international community, resulting in the appointment of twelve United Nations bodies to respond to the health crisis.

In this context, UNODC was asked to contribute to aspects related to the prevention of crimes on indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon, including environmental crimes and illegal mining - issues in which UNODC already works through its projects and offices in Brasilia, Manaus, and Santarém.

The UNODC office in Brazil works in partnership with federal and state institutions and provides technical assistance to strengthen the response to wildlife crimes, forest crimes, illegal mining and crimes in the fisheries sector, in an approach that also takes into account the convergence of these practices with transnational organised crime and other associated crimes, such as corruption, money laundering and human trafficking, contributing to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on SDG 15 Life on Land and SDG 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

To find out more about UNODC work on crimes affecting the environment, click here, and for UNODC publications on the subject, click here.

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