In January 2015 Tony Circelli, AELERT Chair and CE of the Environment Protection Authority South Australia, travelled to Belgium and the United Kingdom to meet with a range of leading environmental regulators. During his visit he was struck by the similarities between Australasian environmental agencies and our European counterparts, and by the opportunities to be gained by increased international collaboration. The below article, written by Tony upon his return to Australia, summarises the trip and the key issues discussed.
International Connections Tony Circelli, AELERT Chair
My visit last month to Belgium and the United Kingdom once again showed me the immense value of connecting with international environmental regulators. While in Belgium I met with the Umicore Vice President and the senior executives who operate the Hoboken Lead and Zinc Smelter, which also specialises in the recovery of precious metals from electronic waste. This advanced facility held particular interest for me, because it operates smelting technology that is proposed to be incorporated into the Nystar lead smelter in Port Pirie, South Australia. In a way the operation in Hoboken represents the potential future for Port Pirie, and my visit to the site gave me first-hand insight into what we could expect back at home.
I also met with the Flemish Environment Agency, the environment protection regulators for the site, and the lead public health officer responsible for monitoring community health in the area. Collaborating with our international colleagues will help us to stay a step-ahead, as we can incorporate their feedback and learnings into our own processes. For example the Hoboken experience demonstrated that urban planning should form part of a long-term strategic approach to minimise the community’s exposure to lead. By simply meeting and discussing these issues at the planning stage, we will be able to implement appropriate strategies from the very beginning.
In the UK, I met with the head of the English Environment Agency, Dr Paul Leinster, and the then head of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Dr James Curran. As many of you would be aware, Mr Terry A’Hearn, who worked with the Victorian EPA for a number of years, has recently been announced as the new CE of SEPA. It was enlightening to share our common challenges, particularly surrounding key emerging issues such as emergency and crisis management, regulatory challenges for unconventional gas, illegal dumping and fires at waste facilities and current reforms.
Both agencies are influential regulators in the European environment protection space, and they are both keen to further build mutually beneficial relations through the AELERT network. They recognise that they can learn from us, as much as we can learn from them. In areas such as waste resource recovery, unconventional gas, emergency response, and even in modern and more effective community engagement practices, there are many opportunities to build better outcomes by working in a more connected fashion. This is something that our AELERT network can facilitate and encourage.
While the Australian and New Zealand environments are unique, environmental regulation as a profession holds many commonalities with our international counterparts. I am keen to continue these connections, and encourage our members to share their experiences.
Regulatory Area: Illegal wildlife trade Jurisdiction: International
An international collaboration, facilitated through INTERPOL, has resulted in the arrest of Nepal’s most wanted wildlife criminal.
Rajkuma Praja, the ringleader of a rhino poaching network, was arrested in Malaysia following his escape from Nepal authorities in 2013. His network of poachers is suspected of killing 19 Rhinos in a National Park in Nepal, resulting in a 15 year sentence for the 31 year old.
His arrest in January 2015 resulted from intelligence sharing between Nepalese and Malaysian INTERPOL Bureaus. Praja was also the target of a large scale INTERPOL Operation in 2014, Operation Infra Terra, that targeted 139 fugitives wanted for a range of environmental crimes.
For more information, read the full story on the INTERPOL website.
Regulatory area: Wildlife trade Jurisdiction: International