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Illegal trade in wildlife and timber products finances criminal and militia groups

 

New UN and INTERPOL study finds environmental crime worth up to USD213 billion each year

NAIROBI, Kenya (24 June) -Global environmental crime, worth up to USD213 billion each year, is helping finance criminal, militia and terrorist groups and threatening the security and sustainable development of many nations, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL.

The Environmental Crime Crisis, a rapid response assessment, was released during the first United Nations Environment Assembly, where action to tackle environmental crime is high on the agenda for hundreds of environment ministers, law enforcement officers, the judiciary and senior UN officials.

One terrorist group operating in East Africa is estimated to make between USD38 and USD56 million per year from the illegal trade in charcoal, says the report. In total, militia and terrorist groups in and around African nations with on-going conflicts may earn USD111 to USD289 million annually from their involvement in, and taxing of, the illegal or unregulated charcoal trade.

Other groups that benefit from the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products are also estimated to earn between USD4 and USD12.2 million each year from elephant ivory in the Central Africa sub-region, driving a significant reduction in elephant populations across Africa, the report says.

Combined estimates from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UNEP and INTERPOL place the monetary value of all environmental crime—which includes logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal mining and dumping of toxic waste—at between USD70 and USD213 billion each year. This compares to global Overseas Development Assistance of around USD135 billion.


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