The Environmental Crime Crisis
Introduction Ecosystems play a crucial role and especially for developing economies by supporting revenues, future development opportunities, livelihoods and sustainable harvest in agri- culture, forestry and fisheries. Ecosystems support tourism, valued at 5–10% of national economies. 1 Ecosystems also supply vital services, such as buffering effects of extreme weather such as floods, drought and cyclones, and through provision of safe water supply to cities. They are valued globally at up to USD 72 trillion. 2 Healthy ecosystems provide the platform upon which future food production and economies are ultimately based. 3 Opportunities, management and future development are also threatened by serious and increasingly sophisticated transnational organized environmental crime, which is undermining development goals and good governance. Transnational organized environmental crime may include illegal logging, poaching and trafficking of wildlife, illegal fisheries, mining and dumping of toxic waste. It is a rapidly rising threat to the environment, to revenues from natural resources, to state security, and to sustainable development. Individual estimates from the OECD, UNEP, INTERPOL and UNODC place the monetary value of different forms of transnational organized environmental crimes to between USD 70–213 billion annually. 4 This compares to a 2013 global ODA of ca. USD 135 billion. 5
Wildlife crime is no longer an emerging issue. The scale and nature of the challenge has been accepted in decisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)(see decisions and resolutions following COP 16) 6 , the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and UNODC, 7 the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly, INTERPOL, 8 the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and others, including many significant nations. High- level political conferences have also addressed the issue, most notably recently convened in Botswana and Paris (December 2013), London (February 2014), and Dar-es-Salaam (May 2014). However, the responses in terms of impact on the ground are still behind the scale and development of the threat to wildlife, including forests, as well as increasingly also development goals.
The illegal trade in wildlife is particularly challenging as it involves multiple dimensions, including poverty, governance and is often hidden in legal trade. It also commonly involves the mixing of legal and illegal harvesting of resources. Such harvesting is done using advanced, deliberate and carefully executed systems of laundering of illegally procured wood, charcoal, bushmeat and fish or other wildlife products. Illegal trade in wildlife can involve complex combinations of methods, including trafficking, forgery, bribes, use of
Transnational organized environmental crime involves primarily five key areas:
1. Illegal logging and deforestation 2. Illegal fisheries 3. Illegal mining and trade in minerals including conflict diamonds 4. Illegal dumping and trade in hazardous and toxic waste 5. Illegal trade and poaching of wildlife and plants
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