Political Ecologies of connecting conservation with global security in the illegal wildlife trade

Political Ecologies of connecting conservation with global security in the illegal wildlife trade

02.03.2020, Monday
ATREE Auditorium


In tackling the challenge of the illegal wildlife trade (IWT), conservation has taken a 'security turn'  – approaching IWT as a serious and organised form of wildlife crime, as a threat to livelihoods, national security and, even, global stability. The shift towards security-oriented approaches is often presented as the option of last resort in the face of unprecedented levels of poaching and genuine threats to the long term existence of some of the worlds most iconic species. It has been enthusiastically embraced by some major donors, big conservation NGOs, philanthropists, international organisations and national governments – often for very different reasons. The security-oriented approach in conservation tends to focus on the roles of organised crime networks, armed groups, terrorist networks, and corruption in IWT. This gives rise to a range of possible solutions to IWT, such as intelligence gathering, militarisation, enhanced law enforcement or reliance on surveillance technologies. However, the key challenge is that such responses do not tackle the social, political and economic complexities that fundamentally drive and sustain IWT, rather they render the wider structural context invisible. In this presentation I will explore the challenges produced by taking a security approach in conservation, and will outline the research of the wider BIOSEC project team on anti poaching, militarisation, the trade in caviar, timber and cacti, demand reduction programmes, surveillance technologies, and the role of donor funding.

About the speaker:

Rosaleen Duffy is Professor of International Politics at the University of Sheffield. Rosaleen uses a political ecology lens in order to understand global environmental change. She is particularly interested in the global politics of biodiversity conservation, and focuses on global environmental governance, wildlife trafficking, poaching, transfrontier conservation and tourism. Recently, her work has sought to understand the growing links between global security and biodiversity conservation. She is currently PI on a European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant for BIOSEC - Biodiversity and Security: Understanding environmental crime, illegal wildlife trade and threat finance. She is author of Nature Crime: How We’re Getting Conservation Wrong (2010) and co author of Nature Unbound (with Dan Brockington and James Igoe).