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.



Illegal wildlife trade

Estimates of the illegal trade in wildlife are generally around 7–23 billion dollars annually, including anything from insects, reptiles, amphibians to mammals. It concerns both live and dead specimens or even products made from wildlife or plants. The specimens and products are used for pharmaceutical, ornamental or traditional medicinal purposes. Illegal harvest and trade includes a range of species from iconic ones like gorillas, orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos, Tibetan antelopes and pangolins to corals, birds, reptiles and sturgeon for caviar. These species often constitute significant financial transactions, both for national economies as well as to black markets. Due to lack of clear definitions, the boundaries between different types of environmental crimes is sometimes unclear.


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