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.



Growth in environmental crime

Assessing the growth rate of a form of crime can be extremely difficult, given that criminals do not hand over statistics of their illegal activities. Other measures such as number of seizures is also influenced by customs attention, coverage and efficiency. Another factor is the scope of ever changing scams, as well as changing smuggling routes. Homicides and financial crimes are to some extent reported or can be found in some countries’ public conviction databases. Many environmental crimes, by contrast, remain unregistered in spite of the massive scale. This has been a primary cause of low awareness of both the scale and the different modi operandi of effective laundering methods in the enforcement sector.


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