By MARK WOODSON
The value of environmental crime is 26 per cent larger than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion today compared to $70-213 billion in 2014, according to a rapid response report published today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL. The Rise of Environmental Crime, released on the eve of World Environment Day (WED), finds that weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “Interpol and UNEP have joined forces to bring to the attention of the world the sheer scale of environmental crime. The vast sums of money generated from these crimes keep sophisticated international criminal gangs in business, and fuel insecurity around the world.
Environmental crime dwarfs the illegal trade in small arms, which is valued at about $3 billion. It is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking. The amount of money lost due to environmental crime is 10,000 times greater than the amount of money spent by international agencies on combatting it – just $20-30 million.
The last decade has seen environmental crime rise by at least 5-7 per cent per year. This means that environmental crime – which includes the illegal trade in wildlife, corporate crime in the forestry sector, the illegal exploitation and sale of gold and other minerals, illegal fisheries, the trafficking of hazardous waste and carbon credit fraud – is growing two to three times faster than global GDP.
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