NEWS | A Political Ecology of Security: The convergence of conservation and security in the illegal wildlife trade

Rosaleen Duffy heads to Barcelona to discuss the growing convergence of security and conservation

Date: Monday, March 4th 2019
Time: 12 – 2 pm
Venue: Room Z/023 Espai Montseny, ICTA-UAB, Barcelona

The illegal wildlife trade has risen to international prominence since the spikes in poaching of elephants and rhinos (from approximately 2008-2010). This has forged a renewed sense of urgency in conservation, a call to do something to tackle poaching and trafficking before they drive species to extinction. On the surface this seems to be a story about conservation and how it is changing. However, I look more deeply into these shifts and reveal how it is a story about capitalism, the security industry it sustains, and the fundamental restructuring of relationships with nature. In order to understand the growing convergence of security and conservation I develop a new framework for analysis, the political ecology of security, via three key strands of imperatives, framings and logics. The sense of urgency around the illegal wildlife trade has produced a series of important conceptual and practical shifts in conservation, which demand a more through investigation and analysis.

Rosaleen Duffy is professor at the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. Before that she was Professor of Political Ecology at the Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London. 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. Her book ‘Nature Crime’ has been published by Yale University Press. Recently, her work has sought to understand the growing links between global security and biodiversity conservation. In 2016 she was awarded a European Research Council Advanced Investigator Grant of EUR 1.8 million for BIOSEC – Biodiversity and Security: Understanding environmental crime, illegal wildlife trade and threat finance. The project runs from 2016 to 2020. In theoretical terms, the project addresses the meanings of ecocide, ideas of environmental crime, as well as debates on environmental security and on political ecologies of conflict. In order to address these theoretical questions, the BIOSEC research team examine the drivers of illegal wildlife hunting, the dynamics of end-user markets, the social and political dimensions of the use of surveillance technologies for wildlife protection and the EU responses to wildlife trafficking.