The Rise of Environmental Crime

A Growing Threat to Natural Resources, Peace, Development and Security

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The environment provides the very foundation of sustainable development, our health, food security and our economies. Ecosystems provide clean water supply, clean air and secure food and ultimately both physical and mental wellbeing. Natural resources also provide livelihoods, jobs and revenues to governments that can be used for education, health care, development and sustainable business models. The role of the environment is recognized across the internationally agreed seventeen sustainable development goals adopted in 2015. However, the environment as the very foundation of sustainable development, peace and security is now at risk. Environmental crime is vastly expanding and increasingly endangering not only wildlife populations but entire ecosystems, sustainable livelihoods and revenue streams to governments. This publication examines these crimes and its effects, and makes recommendations for efforts to be put forward so that peace and sustainable development can prevail.




The large-scale killings of up to several hundred thousand elephants in the last decade have probably triggered much of the global attention on the wider wildlife trafficking crisis. This has been reflected in numerous conferences, resolutions and declarations in over 70 significant events since 2012 to support efforts to curb the poaching and illegal trade. The wider illegal trafficking of thousands of species, of birdlife, reptiles, fish, amphibians, mammals and plants has reached unprecedented scales, damaging ecosystems, diversifying transnational organized crime (TOC), and causing losses in revenues from tourism. Forestry crimes, from unregulated or illegal burning of charcoal to large-scale corporate crimes concerning timber, paper and pulp involving largescale deforestation, have major bearings on global climate emissions, water reserves, desertification schemes and rainfall.


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