Opening Remarks at the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award Ceremony

Delivered at the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award Ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Henry Paulson, the former American Treasury Secretary once said that: “Economic growth and environmental protection are not at odds. They're opposite sides of the same coin if you're looking at longer-term prosperity”.

Adopting a long-term view brings the real impact of environmental crime into sharp focus. This is about actions which damage more than just the environment – they retard development, destroy irreplaceable natural resources, and threaten our present and future prosperity.

The Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards, launched today, recognize the remarkable contribution of the winners to combatting such crimes, and I am proud to join UNEP, the Freeland Foundation, and the Government of Sweden in honoring the recipients.

Our region, the most populous in the world, has seen exceptional economic growth over the past few decades – which has brought great benefits, but which has also fuelled threats to ecosystems and biodiversity.

It is time for the international and regional community to tackle environmental crime in a more urgent and coordinated way.

It is time for stakeholders along the whole enforcement chain, including law-makers, enforcement officers, police, customs officials, prosecutors and judges to work together to stop the wholesale pillaging of our environment.

All of our winners today are extremely worthy of this recognition – but I suspect that they will be the first to say that they represent a much wider constituency of unsung heroes: those dedicated men and women in every country of our region whose time, energy, and expertise are invested to literally make our world a better place, safeguarding environmental security and advancing environmental justice.

To all of you – on behalf of a grateful region – congratulations and thank you.

Together we will build a more equitable inclusive and sustainable Asia and the Pacific.