Environmental Crime Report Shows Damage Far Worse Than Estimated
A new report on environmental crime from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and INTERPOL indicates the cost of environmental crimes is 26% larger than previous estimates, having grown to some USD 91 billion–258 billion today, well above previous estimates of USD 70 billion–213 billion in 2014. The report, titled “The Rise of Environmental Crime,” was released 4 June on the eve of World Environment Day and shows how weak laws and poorly funded security forces have been unable to prevent international criminal networks and armed rebels from profiting from the illicit trade.
“The rise of environmental crime across the world is deeply troubling. The vast sums of money generated from these despicable crimes are fueling insecurity and keeping highly sophisticated international criminal gangs in business,” UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said. “It is essential the world acts now to combat this growing menace before it is too late.”
According to the report, environmental crime dwarfs the illegal trade in small arms, which is valued at approximately USD 3 billion. Environmental crime is the world’s fourth largest criminal enterprise after drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and human trafficking, and the amount of money lost to environmental crimes is far more than the money spent by international agencies combating it; it is 10,000 times greater than the USD 20million–30 million they spend.