More than 80 percent of countries consider environmental crime a national priority, with the majority saying new and more sophisticated criminal activities increasingly threaten peace and security.

INTERPOL and the United Nations surveyed close to 70 countries for their new joint report, Environment, Peace and Security – A Convergence of Threats, which focuses on the links between global environmental crime, valued at up to $258 billion annually, and other criminal activities, including organized crime and terrorism.

More than 60 percent of surveyed countries stated they were witnessing new environmental crimes or modus operandi, indicating growing sophistication and adaptation by transnational organized crime groups.

In addition, 84 percent reported a convergence with other serious crimes, such as corruption (42 percent), counterfeiting (39 percent), drug trafficking (36 percent), cybercrime (23 percent) and financial crime (17 percent).

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “Environmental crime is transnational in scope and insidious in nature. It robs governments of much-needed revenues, people of their livelihoods, and communities of peace and security. The international community needs to support a comprehensive approach by following rhetoric with action, policy with implementation and law with enforcement.”

The report found that some non-state armed groups, terrorist groups and criminal networks fund their activities by exploiting natural resources in conflict areas, posing a serious threat to peace and security. It is estimated that at least 40 percent of internal conflicts have a link to natural resources.

With environmental crime sometimes viewed as an alternative to poverty for low-income populations, their needs are exploited by criminal groups that rely on them for activities, such as illegal poaching, logging, fishing or mining.

The report recommends, among others: a multidisciplinary approach to tackling environmental crime; greater information exchange across sectors; increased focus on the implementation of environmental policy; and stronger financial support.