Organized Environmental Crime: The Urgent Need for a Global Response

Deforestation The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime has published a report depicting “a baseline assessment of organized environmental crime.” The report, titled “The Global Response to Transnational Organized Environmental Crime“, serves to uncover the threats organized crime pose against the environment and the lack of preparation that currently stands to combat this expanding global challenge. More than “150 environmental, development and criminal experts across the globe” have contributed to the baseline assessment presented in the report.

Included in the report are statistics that portray the extent of environmental crime as a thriving and dangerous form of global crime that threatens the environment through wildlife trade, illegal fishing, and deforestation activities,” the value of wildlife trade is an estimated US$19 billion a year, with a single rhinoceros horn netting $260,000 for criminal groups, for example. The value of illegal fishing is estimated at US$23 billion per year, and is forecast to trigger a complete collapse of the world’s fish stocks by 2048. Deforestation in the Amazon region increased up to 103% in 2012-2013, with estimated profits of US$100 billion for the illegal timber industry worldwide. In the Asia-Pacific region, some 80% of lumber is thought to be illicitly sourced.” These illegal environmental activities provide criminals with extensive monetary capabilities to continue their illegal and environmentally degrading enterprises.

The economic implications presented in this report are not the only form of concern investigated in the assessment. Of greater importance to the environmental consultants is the biodiversity and species loss that occurs at the hands of global environmental criminals. Not only do these criminals threaten to impair global biodiversity and add species to endangered, vulnerable, and threatened species lists, their actions also present a direct threat to the diversity and well-being of human life. Cultures that depend on hunting for food and communities that rely on tourism as an economic source of sustenance are directly threatened by the environmental criminal groups investigated in this report.

Five key messages are presented to readers in the concluding statements of the report. These core points serve as a cumulating guideline for the global community to act now against organized environmental crime for the environment and for ourselves, “1. Recognize the role of organized crime: Act now, different, better…, 2. Corruption is the elephant in the room and we don’t say it enough, 3. Capture the controllers, not the army of ants…, 4. Draw on non-state resources and work better together, 5. Unless we act now, we will lose…”



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