09 Apr 2019 Story Environmental rights and governance

Governments recommit to tackling illegal wildlife trade

Corruption remains a key driver of the illegal wildlife trade. At a conference held in October 2018 in the United Kingdom, governments discussed practical ways of building anti-corruption measures into illegal wildlife interventions.

The high-level forum brought together presidents, prime ministers and ministers of environment from 80 countries and other key wildlife stakeholders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction. It built on previous conferences on illegal trade in wildlife held in London (2014), Kasane, Botswana (2015), and Hanoi, Viet Nam (2016).

At the conference, government representatives recognized that the illegal wildlife trade has detrimental economic, environmental, security and social impacts caused by the dramatic declines in the populations of protected species like elephants and rosewood, and the edging of others into the endangered category.

Youths, together with world leaders and private sector companies from the transport, tourism, and financial services sectors, discussed means of tackling the illegal wildlife trade through policy setting and the strengthening of enforcement. The participants also had an opportunity to discuss how climate change mitigation measures such as capacity building and financial assistance can help governments implement initiatives to curtail illegal wildlife trade.

A declaration adopted at the meeting agrees on a renewed global commitment to tackle wildlife crime, recognizing the importance of increased political support at the highest levels to combat illegal wildlife trade. It further recognizes and describes the impact of the illegal trade in wildlife and calls for governments and business to treat it as organized crime. The declaration recognizes the need to address demand for illegal wildlife products and recommends that partnerships be formed to combat wildlife crime. The declaration describes the illegal wildlife trade as a highly organized, sophisticated criminal activity that takes place on an industrial scale and threatens regional and national security, resulting in cross-border incursions, with networks that are often the same as those that enable drugs and human trafficking, money laundering and weapons trafficking.

For more information, please contact: Mamadou.Kane[at]un.org I Dorris.Chepkoech[at]un.org.