The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court recently released a statement announcing a public consultation on how the Court can use existing Rome Statute provisions to better address environmental harm. Stop Ecocide International gathered broad support to call for the need to include ecocide.

You can read our response below.

"At Triodos Bank our philosophy is geared towards ‘financing change and changing finance’. Our services support individuals and organizations who want to make a positive change and contribute to the challenges our society faces. From that position, we welcome the fact that the Office of the Prosecutor is taking environmental crime seriously. Triodos Bank and its clients are strongly invested in the health and safety of our planet and its ecosystems, which support enable all life and (economic) activity.

We understand that the current consultation proposes to explore ways in which the Rome Statute can be used in its current form to hold accountable those who damage the environment. Whilst we welcome the use of the Rome Statute to address what it can within the existing text, there are significant gaps.

As currently drafted, the Rome Statute is focused on harm to humans and offers no explicit protection to the environment except in some circumstances in wartime. Whilst there have been recent examples of horrific damage to the environment within a war context, most of the environmental damage takes place in peacetime for commercial gain. In many cases the damage to humans is not immediately obvious and can take years or decades to manifest, by which time it is too late. 55% Of our global economy and therefore society depends directly on the services that nature provides. As a bank, we cannot operate, provide jobs, facilitate financial transactions or make profit without nature thriving. Given the precarious state of ecosystems and nature and the stress it is currently under, and the depletion of natural resources for the profit of few, severe environmental damage should be a crime in its own right, regardless of its apparent impact on human populations.

We understand that environmental crime - ecocide - was originally intended to be included within the Rome Statute when it was being drafted but, for reasons which are unclear, was dropped before it was signed. We can only imagine how different the world might look now, and what destruction might have been avoided, had environmental crime, no matter peace time or in war, been included. The creation of a new crime specifically geared towards protection of the environment would act as a powerful deterrent against future damage.

In conclusion, it is our view that, whilst seeking ways to use the Rome Statute in its current form to protect the environment is admirable in intent, it simply does not go far enough to provide real protection or a real deterrent. We take the view that a completely new crime, focused on serious damage to the environment in its own right, is essential to safeguard the planet, our common future and healthy, sustainable business."