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Environmental crime is a threat to sustainable development, particularly to the environment, security and the global economy. Its value is estimated between 91–258 billion USD annually with a 5-7% annual growth rate, which is 2–3 times larger than the annual increase of the global economy. Environmental crime is often understood as acts or activities that are in violation of environmental legislation and cause significant harm to the environment and human health.

Environmental crime is the fourth largest area of organized crime in the world (UNEP-INTERPOL) and one of the hardest to tackle, largely because it is interlinked with many other crime areas such as white-collar crime, organized crime and terrorist’s organization. The lack of a precise definition and insufficient global attention is worrying because of the continuous increase in natural resources depletion and the fragility of countries already at risk. Indeed, it has been estimated that at least 40% of the conflicts during the last 6 decades have been linked to natural resources crises.

Since 2014, GRID-Arendal along with other key actors at the international arena have been working on identifying new kinds of environmental crime, raising global awareness, and finding innovative solutions. Throughout the years the programme has been focusing on improving communication, finding technological responses, gathering data and building capacity on the five main identified areas of environmental crime (UNEP-INTERPOL):

  • Illegal logging and timber trade
  • Illegal fisheries
  • Illegal mining and trade in minerals
  • Illegal wildlife trade and poaching
  • Illegal waste trafficking and dumping

Currently, the Environmental Crime programme is focusing its efforts towards encouraging the utilisation of information products generated from various forms of remote sensing technologies. Stabile access to this kind of information can be crucial for the detection and prosecution capabilities of states affected by different kinds of environmental crime.

Our projects are building on the strengths of our different partners to provide capacity building and training in using information from remote sensing technologies in order to address environmental crime. 

Status: In progress

Type: Programme

Tags: biodiversity Asia Latin America Pacific wildlife fisheries environmental crime chemicals toxics and heavy metals forests terrestrial Small Island Developing States natural resources Africa transboundary governance technology and innovation


GRID-Arendal's activities are nearly always a cooperative undertaking made possible through collaboration with partners and donors.

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