UNDP, UNODC, CITES, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Bank Group Bring Leaders Together at Event at WCS’s Central Park Zoo
New York – Sept. 27, 2015 – At an event hosted by the governments of Gabon and Germany and partners, leaders from U.N. member states and international organizations pledged their support today in tackling the growing problem of illegal wildlife trafficking at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Central Park Zoo in New York City.
Jointly organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the World Bank, and WCS, the event was also attended by Ministers and other senior government representatives. It featured high-level remarks on the escalating threat of wildlife crime to the world’s wildlife and ecosystems and highlighted possible solutions for solving the crisis. The event coincides with the gathering of world leaders for the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which runs through October 6.
The keynote speaker at the event, Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, along with Ministers from Botswana, Gabon, Germany, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the U.S. Government, as well as the Executive Director of UNODC and the CITES Secretary-General, discussed the need for increased political commitment in stopping wildlife trafficking and the need to increase financial and technical support. Speakers also noted the importance of a recently adopted UN General Assembly resolution on combating the illegal wildlife trade and the related outcome report titled “Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The report contains a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were formally adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit held from Sept. 25 through Sept. 27.
The outcome document provides the world with a 15-year vision for guiding the protection of natural resources, including goals with targets for the conservation of wildlife and endangered species. It also includes specific targets to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of fauna and flora; to address supply and demand of illegal wildlife products; and enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities. Other SDGs focus on stemming the effects of climate change, ending poverty, and conserving natural resources, etc.
Said Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP: “This illegal trade in wildlife is a development, environmental, and security challenge which is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction, fuelling corruption and conflict, and putting lives and livelihoods at risk. The world has shown that it is ready to get serious about wildlife and forest crime, and UNDP and its partners are committed to contributing to this work.”
Said John Scanlon, Secretary-General, CITES: “The adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with specific targets on ending poaching and trafficking in wildlife, is a powerful expression of political determination to end these highly destructive crimes. These crimes are driven by people’s greed, indifference and ignorance, and it is through the actions of people that we will achieve these targets. The collective effort that is on display here today in the Central Park Zoo gives us confidence we will succeed.”
Said Cristián Samper, President and CEO, WCS: “As a global community we must grapple with a critical dilemma that can no longer be pushed off to future generations. If our planet is to sustain us, then we must sustain our planet. The inclusion of targets to protect endangered species and end wildlife trafficking in the global goals are a strategic step in that direction. I am optimistic that these global goals adopted this past week will help us work together and result in a much better world for wildlife and all life.”
Said Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, UNODC: “We need to do more to translate awareness and commitment into action, to strengthen national responses as well as international cooperation to tackle the transnational dimensions of wildlife and forest crime. This joint event with UN agencies, Member States and civil society is testimony to our resolve to stop the organized criminal syndicates who are plundering our natural resources and heritage.”
The event was moderated by John Scanlon, Secretary-General, CITES, with high-level remarks by Minister Issoze Ngondet, Gabon, Foreign Minister; The Rt Hon Grant Shapps, United Kingdom Minister of State for International Development and Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; Hon. Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, Republic of South Africa; Hon. Tshekedi Khama, Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Republic of Botswana; Anne Hall, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; Cristian Samper, President and CEO, WCS; Georg Wilfried Schmidt, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel of the German Federal Foreign Office; and Yury Fedotov, Executive Director, UNODC.