ABSTRACT

Introduction Environmental harms are arguably the most confounding challenge of our time. Biodiversity loss, pollution from toxic and hazardous materials, climate change and natural resource degradation all continue to defy solutions, largely due to the fact that they cross human borders between and within sovereign states. Traditionally, governments and their agents responded to these harms through enforcement of strict rules and standards set out in legislation and treaties (Gunningham 2009). These laws established a plethora of enforcement functions, powers and procedures on issues such as illegal wildlife trade, hazardous waste and pollution (UNODC 2012, p. 87). An increasingly complex cohort of police, customs, specialist environmental agencies and courts arose to administer these laws (UNODC 2012, p. 87). Yet, despite some success (Cole and Grossman 1999; Najam et al. 2006), this traditional regulatory approach has often proved ineffective and inefficient at arresting environmental harms (Spapens et al. 2014). These weaknesses have been caused by an array of factors, not least the mismatch between the traditional regulatory architecture (which is based on ecologically arbitrary human defined borders) and the transboundary nature of environmental harms (White 2012; United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute 2015).