Booklet 5 - Drugs and the environment

Constituting the fifth part of the World Drug Report 2022, the present booklet contains a deep dive into the nexus between drugs and the environment. The aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of research into the direct and indirect effects of illicit crop cultivation, drug manufacture and drug policy responses on the environment, in order to assist Member States in anticipating and addressing environmental challenges and in mitigating risks.

The booklet starts with a general overview of how illicit drugs and the environment are linked within the bigger picture of the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change and environmental sustainability. It highlights direct and indirect linkages and gives examples of the significant local and individual-level impact that drugs can have on the environment. This is followed by a more in-depth overview of the latest scientific evidence for plant-based drugs and for synthetic drugs. For plant-based drugs, for example, this includes an analysis of the relationship between illicit crop cultivation and deforestation. For synthetic drugs, it includes an analysis of waste composition, volumes, and dumping and discharge, as well as the relation with wastewater treatment. The booklet also contains, at the end, detailed descriptions of the environmental harm related to the production of cannabis (both indoor- and outdoor-grown), other plant-based drugs and synthetic drugs.