NEW DELHI, September 29, 2017 – The Government of India, the World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are convening more than 100 participants from over 20 countries in New Delhi, India, from October 2-3, 2017, for a conference on People's Participation in Wildlife Conservation—supporting the country’s Wildlife Week celebration.
“This conference is of the outmost importance to the wildlife conservation community not only in India but around the world. Without local communities participating and benefiting from wildlife conservation, it is going to be very hard to win the current war against poaching and the international illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife parts. This conference promises to deliver solutions to this crises that affects us all," said Jaime Cavelier, Sr. Biodiversity Specialist at the GEF.
Engaging people across all sectors is critical for the survival of many endangered species. These species include tigers, elephants and rhinos—keystone species that play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems. The loss of wildlife and their habitats impedes the progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and threatens the future of local economies.
During the conference in Delhi, the Government of India and the UNDP will launch the Securing Livelihoods, Conservation, Sustainable Use and Restoration of High Range Himalayan Ecosystems project (SECURE Himalaya). As one of the projects within the GWP, the GEF has provided an $11.5 million grant. An additional $61 million in co-financing has been committed by India's central and state governments.
“UNDP is proud to support the Government of India in the ‘SECURE Himalaya’ partnership, which is a recognition that people’s participation is critical to protecting the biodiversity wealth of the Himalaya’s and in securing the lives and livelihoods of local communities,” said Marina Walter, Country Director a.i. UNDP India.
The SECURE Himalaya project is being implemented by the Government of India in partnership with UNDP to sustain critical ecosystem services (such as fresh water, erosion reduction, mineral resources, land for food crops, medicinal plants, etc.) and conserve vulnerable snow leopards by securing community livelihoods, enhancing enforcement, strengthening community institutions, and improving knowledge, advocacy and information systems for promoting landscape-based conservation approaches. The project will develop participatory natural resource management practices and enterprise-based sustainable livelihoods for local communities in four high elevation landscapes—alpine pastures, sub-alpine forests and critical watersheds.
“Through the SECURE Himalaya project in India, our partners will build alliances between the private sector, local communities and local government authorities. We hope this conference will give our stakeholders in India and our partners across the GWP’s 19 countries the ability to engage people in wildlife conservation across all walks of life,” said Claudia Sobrevila, the GWP’s Program Manager.
Conference participants include several ministers in charge of wildlife and/or forestry or tourism departments from the GWP countries as well as other government officials and national project leads, senior representatives from GWP partner organizations including the GEF, UN agencies and international NGOs, as well as youth and private sector representatives. This conference is designed to provide a platform for the project leaders to raise awareness, showcase, and learn from African and Asian experiences.
About the GWP
The GWP is a $131 million global partnership on wildlife conservation, crime prevention and sustainable development led by the World Bank and funded by the Global Environment Facility that coordinates with partners in 19 countries across Asia and Africa (Afghanistan, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Philippines, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) to improve wildlife and protected area management, enhance community livelihood benefits, strengthen law enforcement, reduce demand of illegal wildlife products and accelerate learning on relevant topics on the illegal trade of wildlife.
Many of the GWP’s national projects invest in activities that involve the active participation of individuals and communities in wildlife conservation so they may benefit from the economic value of wildlife through tourism or alternative livelihoods in order to sustain conservation efforts.