Illegal Environmental Markets

Thematic Scope

Environmental crimes have a serious impact on our everyday lives, our planet and on future generations. The urgency of the proliferation of environmental crime is illustrated by the global destruction of ancient rainforests, the mass extinction of species, the pollution of the atmosphere, surface, and water, as well as the far-reaching impacts on and threats to social security and safety. Illegal environmental markets are not limited to so-called forest and ecosystem risk commodities but range from the trade in timber to the trafficking of wildlife, hazardous waste, minerals and metals, IUU fishing and counterfeiting food stocks. This challenges global environmental markets, but also the internal European market in the area of freedom of movement, security, and justice. Despite the transnational and intergenerational character of these serious environmental breaches, they have only recently been considered to be criminal or at least seriously harmful.

This Building Block brings together RENFORCE researchers’ expertise on the regulatory and punitive enforcement of serious environmental breaches and harms. The Building Block focusses on understanding the criminological, regulatory and enforcement perspectives regarding licit and illicit environmental markets based on empirical and doctrinal legal research.  In this perspective, the Building Block seeks to bring together scholars working in various academic backgrounds, including criminology, criminal law, administrative law, European law and international public law. This may not only bring forward new insights but also enhances the connection and cooperation with different academic disciplinary research projects and programs.

Our newly formed Building Block aims at both developing insights in illegal, regulated, and harmful environmental markets and critically assessing international, EU and national laws as well as enforcement strategies. Given the lack of academic attention from both social sciences and the study of law, our Building Block members mobilize their expertise to improve social academic and legal knowledge about:

  • illegal environmental markets, actors, and drivers
  • regulatory frameworks
  • punitive enforcement of environmental crimes


You are welcome to contact the coordinator of this project, Daan van Uhm, with your (research) inquiries and other suggestions