INTERPOL – UNEP: The Environmental Crime: Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources


...Combined estimates from the OECD, UNODC, UNEP and INTERPOL place the monetary value of all transnational  organized environmental crime between 70–213 billion USD annually. This compares to a global ODA of ca. 135 billion USD. Whilst therefore benefiting a relatively small criminal fraternity, the illegal trade in natural resources is otherwise depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues and development opportunities...


Citation: Nellemann, C., Henriksen, R., Raxter, P., Ash, N., Mrema, E. (Eds). 2014. The Environmental Crime:  Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources. A UNEP Rapid Response Assessment. United Nations Environment Programme and GRID-Arendal, Nairobi and Arendal,


Content: Preface - Executive summary - Responses - Recommendations - Introduction - Wildlife trafficking - Forest crime - Role of wood and illegal wildlife trade for threat finance - Responses - Conclusion - Recommendations - Acronyms - Contributors - Notes


For more Please download the Document below:  Nellemann, C., Henriksen, R., Raxter, P., Ash, N., Mrema, E. (Eds). 2014. The Environmental Crime:  Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources.


 Executive summary

Ecosystems play a crucial role and especially for developing economies by supporting revenues, future development opportunities, livelihoods and sustainable harvest sectors relying heavily on natural resources, such as in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Healthy ecosystems provide the platform upon which future food production and economies are ultimately based.


The opportunities ecosystems provide for future development, however, are threatened by serious and increasingly sophisticated transnational organized environmental crime, undermining development goals and good governance. Transnational organized environmental crime may include illegal logging, poaching and trafficking of a wide range of animals, illegal fisheries, illegal 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.


Combined estimates from the OECD, UNODC, UNEP and INTERPOL place the monetary value of all transnational organized environmental crime between 70–213 billion USD annually. This compares to a global ODA of ca. 135 billion USD. Whilst therefore benefiting a relatively small criminal fraternity, the illegal trade in natural resources is otherwise depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues and development opportunities.

The illegal trade in wildlife is no longer an emerging issue. The scale and nature of the challenge has been recognized in decisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN Security Council, UN General Assembly, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and others, including at national levels. Highlevel 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 possible number of elephants killed in Africa is in the range of 20–25,000 elephants per year out of a population of 420,000–650,000. For the forest elephant, population size has been estimated to decline by ca. 62% between 2002 and 2011. Poached African ivory may represent an end-user street value in Asia of an estimated USD 165–188 million of raw ivory, in addition to ivory from Asian sources. For rhinos, some 94% of the poaching takes place in Zimbabwe and South Africa, which have the largest remaining populations. Here poaching has increased dramatically from possibly less than 50 in 2007 to over 1,000 in 2013 involving organized syndicates. Rhinos have disappeared entirely from several Asian and African countries in recent years. Rhino horn poached last year is valued around USD 63.8 – 192 million USD, much less at the frontline.


The scale of revenue from wildlife crime is dwarfed by the income from illegal logging and forest crime. Forest crime, such as illegal logging, has previously been estimated to represent a value of 30–100 billion USD annually or 10–30% of the total global timber trade. An estimated 50–90% of the wood in some individual tropical countries is suspected to come from illegal sources or has been logged illegally.


For pulp and paper production, networks of shell companies and plantations are actively used to by-pass logging  moratoriums under the pretext of agricultural or palm- oil investments, used to funnel illegal timber through plantations, or to ship wood and pulp via legal plantations in order to re-classify pulp or wood as legal production, undermining also legal business and production. These methods effectively bypass many current customs efforts related to the Lacey Act and the EU FLEGT programme to restrict the import of illegal tropical wood to the US and to the EU, respectively. Based on data from EUROSTAT, FAO and the International Tropcial Timber Organization (ITTO), the EU and the US annually imports approximately 33.5 million tons of tropical wood in all its forms. It is estimated that 62–86% of all suspected illegal tropical wood entering the EU and US arrives in the form of paper, pulp or wood chips, not as roundwood or sawnwood or furniture products, which have received the most attention in the past.



Wildlife and forest crime has a serious role in threat finance to organized crime, and non-state armed groups including terrorist groups. Ivory also provides a portion of income raised bymilitia groups in the DRC and CAR, and is likely a primary source of income to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) currently operating in the border triangle of South Sudan, CAR and DRC. Ivory similarly provides a source of income to Sudanese Janjaweed and other horse gangs operating between Sudan, Chad and Niger. However, given the estimated elephant populations and the number of projected killed elephants within the striking range of these militia groups, the likely annual income from ivory to militias in the entire Sub-Saharan range is likely in the order of USD 4.0–12.2 million...


For more Please download the Document below:  Nellemann, C., Henriksen, R., Raxter, P., Ash, N., Mrema, E. (Eds). 2014. The Environmental Crime:  Crisis – Threats to Sustainable Development from Illegal Exploitation and Trade in Wildlife and Forest Resources.

Images credit: See Report


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