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UN report: environmental crime financing criminal activity, threatening global development

[JURIST] Gllobal environment crime [press release] is financing criminal activity and threatening global development, according to a report [text, PDF] released Tuesday by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and INTERPOL [official websites]. The 108-page report, entitled "The Environmental Crime Crisis," details the ways in which illegal trading of charcoal, timber and poached wildlife, worth approximately $213 billion annually, helps to fund terrorist and criminal groups, as well as threatening the security and development of many countries. INTERPOL's Executive Director of Police Services, Jean-Michel Louboutin, stated that "transnational criminal organizations are making immense profits by exploiting our natural resources to fuel their illicit activities, threatening the stability and future development of some of the world's poorest regions." To assuage the growing global issue, the report urges the importance of recognizing and communicating to the public the impact that illegal global activity has had on the environment. Next, the report suggests coordinated efforts to strengthen legislation and regulation, along with continued financial support of UNEP. The report was released during the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) [official website], where environment ministers, law enforcement officers, the government leaders met to discuss issues including environment crime.

Poaching and illegal trade of environmental goods is a growing threat worldwide. Wildlife conservation agency CITES [agency website] reported this month that more than 20,000 African elephants [Reuters report] were killed for their ivory in 2013 alone. In May, it was reported that Brazil has participated in illegal logging [The Guardian report] on a massive scale. In February, authorities in Togo seized almost 4 tons of ivory [Reuters report], collected from over 500 dead elephants, as the illegal cargo was being shipped to Vietnam. The European Parliament in 2008 adopted new rules to criminalize acts [JURIST report] that cause serious environmental damage.

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