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Value of world environmental crimes rises by 26% – UNEP

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has put the value of the world environmental crimes at between 91 billion dollars and 258 billion dollars in 2015, higher by 26 per cent in 2014.
A joint report published on Saturday by the UNEP and INTERPOL stated that in 2014, the environmental crimes value ranged from between 70 billion dollars and 213 billion dollars.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report was released as the world is preparing to mark World Environment Day (WED) on June 5.
The day is set aside by the UN to create awareness on environmental issues.
The report said that there was “rise of environmental crimes’’, globally.
Specifically, it estimated the value of forestry crimes, including corporate crimes and illegal logging at between 50 billion dollars and 152 billion dollars annually.
It said that weak laws and poorly funded security forces were aiding international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from the trade that fuels conflicts.
It said that the environmental crime had devastated ecosystems and threatened species with extinction.
The report recommended strong action, legislation and sanctions at the national and international level, including measures targeted at disrupting overseas tax havens.
It also recommended increase in financial support commensurate with the serious threat that environmental crimes posed to sustainable development, economic incentives and alternative livelihoods for those involved in environmental crime chain.
According to the report, the last decade has seen environmental crimes rise by at least five to seven per cent each year.
“This means that environmental crimes – which include the illegal trade in wildlife, corporate crime in the forestry sector, the illegal exploitation and sale of gold and other minerals, illegal fisheries, the trafficking of hazardous waste and carbon credit fraud- are growing two to three times faster than global GDP,’’ it said.
The report quoted outgoing UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner as saying that Interpol and UNEP had joined forces to bring to the attention of the world the sheer scale of environmental crimes.
Steiner said that the vast sums of money generated from those crimes kept sophisticated international criminal gangs in business and fuel insecurity around the world.
“The result is not only devastating to the environment and local economies, but to all those who are menaced by these criminal enterprises.
“The world needs to come together now to take strong national and international action to bring environmental crime to an end.
“Environmental crime dwarfs the illegal trade in small arms, which is valued at about three billion dollars. It is the world’s fourth-largest criminal enterprise after drug smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking.
“The amount of money lost due to environmental crime is 10,000 times greater than the amount of money spent by international agencies on combating it – just 20-30 million dollars,’’ Steiner said.
It also quoted INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock as saying that “environmental crime is growing at an alarming pace’’.
“The complexity of this type of criminality requires a multi-sector response underpinned by collaboration across borders.
“Through its global policing capabilities, INTERPOL is resolutely committed to working with its member countries to combat the organised crime networks active in environmental crime,’’ Stock said.

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