Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Boom in wildlife crime

Leopard skin, Guangzhou, China Leopard skin, Guangzhou, China Attila JANDI
13 Aug
2016
The world’s fourth largest criminal enterprise is the illegal trade in environmental products. Now both INTERPOL and the UN are calling for greater collaboration and leadership to combat these activities

Environmental crime is big business. A joint INTERPOL-UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report has revealed it to be 26 per cent larger than previous estimates – potentially worth as much as £175billion annually. That makes it the world’s fourth largest criminal enterprise after drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. By comparison, the illegal trade in small arms is valued at a mere £2billion per year.

The term ‘environmental crime’ includes everything from the illegal trade in wildlife (worth £5-16billion), logging (£34-103billion), and fisheries (£7-15billion), to the illegal exploitation and sale of gold and other minerals (£8-32billion), the trafficking of hazardous waste (£7-8billion), and, to a lesser extent, even carbon credit fraud.

The world needs to come together now to take strong national and international action to bring environmental crime to an end

Furthermore, governments around the world are losing £6-18billion annually as a result of tax revenues from environmental activities disappearing into the black market. These latest figures indicate that environmental crime rates are climbing by at least five to seven per cent per year.

‘The world needs to come together now to take strong national and international action to bring environmental crime to an end,’ says Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director. ‘The vast sums of money generated from these crimes keep sophisticated international criminal gangs in business, and fuel insecurity around the world.’

The enormous sums of criminal money involved dwarf the global funding available to tackle environmental crimes – roughly £14-20million per year. INTERPOL and the UNEP conclude that ‘a system-wide strategy, including in countries and across the international community, will be required to address the wider threats of environmental crime to peace, development, revenues and security.’ They urge greater recognition of the wider threats posed by the growing environmental crime sector, as well as for stronger leadership and legal powers to help clamp down on perpetrators.

This was published in the August 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.

Related items

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Climate

History is littered with examples of fungi helping to digest…

Geophoto

The streets of Philadelphia are home to a small and forgotten…

Geophoto

When photographer Matthew Maran first snapped a fox he had…

Wildlife

Coloradans have voted to reintroduce grey wolves to the state

Energy

Covid-19 provides an opportunity to re-assess the supply chains of…

Geophoto

Andrea DiCenzo is a photojournalist, who has covered conflicts for…

Oceans

Field observations of corals around the world reveal that not…

Climate

The Great Plains of the USA are once again getting…

Climate

Attempts to build a digital twin of the Earth could…

Oceans

Food systems will need to change as the global population…

Wildlife

Zoos do a lot more than welcome excited visitors; closures…

Oceans

 BluHope is back with a day of webinars to promote…

Wildlife

WildEast, a grassroots community initiative, is encouraging volunteers to commit…

Wildlife

With growing global awareness of the risks of hunting and…

Climate

Researchers have identified the extent of microplastic contamination throughout the…

Wildlife

The Thames Estuary has long been home to heavy industry,…

Wildlife

Whydahs and indigobirds, collectively known as the vidua finches, show…

Oceans

Whales sequester an enormous amount of carbon, making their protection…