Environmental crime cost the world $258 bln, report

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Pretoria, 21 January 2016 - South Africa is on the road to winning the fight against rhino poaching. Over 3 hundred people were arrested for poaching related crimes in the last year.

Cape Town – Environmental crime cost the world a whopping $258 billion last year, a full 26 per cent more than the year before, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol said Saturday in a joint report.

“Environmental crime is growing at an alarming pace,” warned Interpol secretary general Juergen Stock.

Environmental crime includes illegal wildlife trade, corporate crime in the forestry sector, illegal gold and mineral exploitation, illegal fisheries as well as the trafficking of hazardous waste and carbon credit fraud.

Over the last decade, environmental crime increased by five to seven per cent per year, according to the report. This means that environmental crime is growing two to three times faster than global gross domestic product (GDP).

It is also 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 combatting it, which comes to about 30 million dollars, the report found.

Weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction, the authors said.

“The vast sums of money generated from these crimes keep sophisticated international criminal gangs in business and fuel insecurity around the world,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

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