On June 5, 2023, as the world celebrates World Environment Day, the SELDI Network calls upon governments, civil society, media, and particularly the justice sectors of Southeast European countries to prioritize environmental protection. This urgent plea emphasizes the need to tackle corruption and illicit practices that have caused irreparable damage to the environment.
Corruption is one of the main factors through which unconscionable and irresponsible exploiters are degrading the environment in all its critical dimensions, by destroying forest areas, polluting the land and air, eroding riverbeds and destroying the habitat.
In the countries of South-Eastern Europe, corruption of this type has different forms, but it is mainly manifested through:
- Inadequate permits and licenses granted to private operators without proper qualifications.
- Granting amnesty to operators responsible for environmental degradation.
- Insufficient inspection and lack of punitive measures for those accountable for restoration.
- Failure to monitor air pollutants and control gas emissions effectively.
- Insufficient penalties for parties involved in the creation of illegal waste dumps.
- Superficial handling of environmental crimes by the justice sector.
Despite the existence of legal regulations and adherence to the norms and standards of the European Union and the United Nations, effective environmental management and law enforcement have been undermined by the influence of interest groups and corruption at various levels of government. These practices, fueled by pervasive corruption, exert a detrimental influence on the ongoing degradation of the environment and contribute to future instability.
SELDI recognizes the vital importance of fostering a deep-rooted consciousness for environmental preservation and the ecosystems that revolve around our planet. It emphasizes that this awareness should transcend mere education and socio-cultural dimensions, transforming into a fundamental way of life that guides our daily actions and choices.
Southeastern Europe and the Western Balkans are bestowed with a remarkable abundance of environmental diversity, spanning from breathtaking coastlines to majestic forested peaks, and from meandering rivers to thriving flora and fauna. However, this invaluable habitat is currently under direct threat from the scourge of corruption.
Environmental crime committed through corrupt practices transcends national boundaries, necessitating an interstate response. To effectively combat this crime, urgent preventive measures must be taken without delay.
Protecting and nurturing the environment is not a mere option, but an imperative for our very existence.
SELDI strongly urges the free media and civil society to intensify their dedication to advocating for and exposing corruption within the environmental sector. By doing so, we can steer this issue towards a new direction—one that is vital for the rehabilitation and security of our future.