Global environmental crime, worth up to $213 billion each year, is helping finance criminal, militia and terrorist groups, according to a new report of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Interpol.
“Beyond immediate environmental impacts, the illegal trade in natural resources is depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues just to fill the pockets of criminals,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Sustainable development, livelihoods, good governance and the rule of law are all being threatened, as significant sums of money are flowing to militias and terrorist groups.”
According to “The Environment Crime Crisis,” one terrorist group operating in East Africa is estimated to make between $38 million and $56 million per year from the illegal trade in charcoal. All in all, militia and terrorist groups in and around African nations with on-going conflicts may earn $111 million to $289 million annually from their involvement in, and taxing of, the illegal or unregulated charcoal trade.
Other groups that benefit from the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products are also estimated to earn between $4 million and $12.2 million each year from elephant ivory in the Central Africa sub-region, driving a significant reduction in elephant populations across Africa, the report says.
Combined estimates from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNEP and Interpol place the monetary value of all environmental crime at between $70 billion and $213 billion each year.