Global Wildlife Program

A Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development


The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a global threat. The problem is particularly acute in Africa and Asia, where iconic species – the African elephant, white and black rhinos, and pangolins – are being poached to extinction. About 33,000 elephants are poached every year for their ivory. Rhino poaching has also reached crisis levels. In 2017, 1,028 rhinos were poached in South Africa, up steeply from 13 in 2007, according to TRAFFIC. As species are poached and illegally harvested at increasingly unsustainable levels, wildlife crime has become the fourth most lucrative illegal business after narcotics, human trafficking, and weapons.

The presence of wildlife in protected areas ensures that an ecosystem can function and maintain natural capital (soil, forests, air, water, etc.) As natural resource crime such as poaching increases, it results in environmental degradation. This adversely affects ecosystem services, which in turn affects the survival of these communities who depend upon these services for livelihoods, fuel and food. The cost of environmental crime to developing countries is estimated to be more than US$70 billion a year (World Bank 2014).

To respond to the growing crisis and international call for action, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in June 2015 launched the “Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development” program also known as the Global Wildlife Program (GWP).

What does the Global Wildlife Program aim to do?

The GWP is a World Bank-led, GEF-funded global partnership that promotes wildlife conservation and sustainable development by combatting illicit trafficking in wildlife. This seven-year, US$131 million grant program is expected to leverage an additional US$704 million in additional co-financing from a wide range of partners to promote conservation investments across Africa and Asia. By approaching the poaching crisis holistically through various country projects and a broader global project, it seeks to reduce both the supply and demand that drives the illegal wildlife trade and protect species and habitats through integrated landscape planning.

GWP’s priority and immediate focus are combating wildlife poaching, trafficking, and demand. 


Through its global and country projects, the GWP will:

  • Promote community-based natural resource management and tourism development
  • Promote landscape-level management and human-wildlife conflict mitigation tools
  • Increase law enforcement efforts in-country through improved legislation, judiciary and prosecution
  • Raise awareness of demand reduction through targeted campaigns that encourage behavior change.
  • Help countries achieve their biodiversity goals: It will support the implementation of country priorities identified in the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, Elephant Action Plan and other wildlife and tourism national strategies.
  • Accelerate learning: It will develop an online repository of information and conduct training and capacity building workshops to ensure knowledge exchange between countries, partners and other stakeholders. It will provide opportunities for regional and global knowledge exchanges.
  • Enhance collaboration: It will foster intergovernmental cooperation, utilize geospatial and surveillance tools, increase intelligence sharing to track criminals, collaborate on efforts around anti-money laundering, capture lessons learned, and apply innovative communication strategies. In addition, it will include a component to promote best practices in ports and collaboration between African and Asian countries and agencies involved in reducing maritime transport of illegal wildlife products, especially ivory.
  • Strengthen partnerships: It will build synergies with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). It is a collaboration between the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, UNODC, the World Customs Organization and the WBG, which has been a partner to ICCWC since 2010.
  • Implement a monitoring and evaluation framework:  It will develop and deploy a monitoring system for the program to track program progress and serve as an integral tool to promote synergies amongst national projects.
  • Promote donor coordination: As part of the ongoing engagement with key international donors, the program will serve as a platform to assess the current state of international funding to tackle illicit trafficking in wildlife. The GWP released the first-ever review of international donor funding for combatting illegal wildlife trade in Africa and Asia, which shows that over US$1.3 billion was committed by 24 international donors since 2010. The report serves as a baseline the donor community can build upon, which in consultation with recipient countries, can establish the future state vision for IWT financing. This will facilitate sharing of lessons learned and inform strategic efforts to fill financing gaps for priority intervention areas.

Collectively, the GWP countries make up an incredible repository of biodiversity and potential for sustainable development. The program’s integrated platform supports national governments, Ministries of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Wildlife and Protected Areas across 19 countries.

In Africa, the GWP has programs in BotswanaCameroonEthiopiaGabonKenyaMalawiMaliMozambique, Republic of Congo (WBG), Republic of Congo (UNDP), South AfricaTanzaniaZambia, and Zimbabwe.

In Asia, programs are in AfghanistanIndiaIndonesia, the Philippines (see brochure), Thailand, and Vietnam.

The GWP collaborates with development partners in the ground to reduce the impacts of wildlife poaching and trafficking, and promote livelihood activities by local communities. The implementing agencies channeling the funds to the governments or other partners for the national projects are the World Bank GroupUnited Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The GWP works with the International Consortium to Combat Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), donors and conservation partners to implement an integrated approach for biodiversity conservation, wildlife crime prevention and sustainable development, including:

  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  • Traffic
  • WildAid 
  • Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

"The current crisis in the illegal trade of wildlife reflects on the poor governance, the lucrative benefits of illegal trade and the rise in demand of wildlife products. It is our hope that in partnering with many others, GWP will combat wildlife crime, engage communities in sustainable livelihood alternatives, and improve the governance of natural resources. "

Claudia Sobrevila
Global Wildlife Program Manager, World Bank Group




Knowledge exchange is an integral part of the GWP programmatic approach. The GWP conducts monthly virtual knowledge exchange events on a range of topics related to anti-poaching, community engagement, tourism concessions, counter-wildlife trafficking, anti-corruption and consumer demand reduction. Since the start of 2017, over 800 participants across the globe have joined these monthly virtual events with a 154% increase in participation from 2016. Aimed towards bringing the latest and most innovative tools and studies to the forefront, the virtual events are an easy way for stakeholders to learn from experts and share lessons learned.

The GWP also holds face-to-face knowledge exchange events bringing together government representatives from national projects with implementing agency partners and other conservation organizations. Some of the events so far are described below.  

In-Person Knowledge Exchange Events 

Annual Conference on Cross-Border Partnerships for Conservation and Development

Location: Livingstone, Zambia
Dates: October 29-November 1, 2018
Agenda | Conference Proceedings | Video

International Conference on Nature-Based Tourism in Conservation Areas

Location: Maputo, Mozambique
Dates: June 7-9, 2018
Event page | Blog | Background and Agenda (EN) | Agenda and Brochure (PT)

Study Tour on Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation and Co-Existence

Location: Sri Lanka
Dates: October 7-8, 2017
Report | Blog


Annual Conference on People’s Participation in Wildlife Conservation

Location: Delhi and Pench Tiger Reserve, India
Dates: October 2-7, 2017
Conference Proceedings


Knowledge Exchange on Africa-Asia Pacific Symposium on Strengthening Legal Frameworks to Combat Wildlife Crime

Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Dates: July 4-5, 2017


Knowledge Exchange to Reduce Human Wildlife Conflict and Enhance Coexistence

Location: La Lope and Libreville, Gabon
Dates: April 3-7, 2017
Conference Proceedings | Blog


Knowledge Exchange on Reducing Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Dates: November 14-16, 2017
Conference Proceedings | Blog


Knowledge Exchange on Engaging Communities in Wildlife Conservation

Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Dates: May 18-20, 2016


Knowledge Exchange to Combat Wildlife Crime

Location: Gland, Switzerland
Dates: January 18-19, 2016


If you would like to join virtual events, please email




Report: The Global Wildlife Program: Knowledge Platform 2016-2018, October 2018

Report: Supporting Sustainable Livelihoods through Wildlife Tourism, February 2018

Report: Tools and Resources to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade, March 2018

Report: Analysis of International Funding to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade, June 2016

Ebook: Analysis of International Funding to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade | Fact Sheet [.PDF, 138KB], June 2016

Brochure: Global Wildlife Program - English [.PDF 3.8 MB | French [.PDF 3.9 MB], March 2017

Infographic: How to Help Save Wildlife, March 2017


Joining forces to halt poaching and trafficking across Africa and Asia, April 2019

Women in nature conservation: a win-WINN, March 2019

Community-based forestry in Malawi will soon bear fruit, February 2019

Putting youth to work while preserving a South African ecosystem, December 2018

Behind the lens: Capturing the story of Niassa's elephant defenders, November 2018

Ensuring a world where elephants aren’t the next dinosaurs, August 2018

Levering PPPs in Mozambique to scale conservation and development (also - in Portuguese), July 2018

Rowing a boat for tourism and development in Vietnam, June 2018

Why Did the Elephant Cross the Road? March 2018

Big Challenges for Big Cats: Supporting Wildlife Law Enforcement in Lao PDR, February 2018

Elephants hate kale and other lessons in bringing conservation and development together, January 2018

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, December 2017

Africa can benefit from nature-based tourism in a sustainable manner, September 2017

Elephants are calling for help: Will you answer? August 2017

Why law enforcement is essential to stopping illegal wildlife trade, July 2017

Corridors to coexistence: reducing human-wildlife conflict, May 17, 2017

The world’s wildlife needs young naturalists, March 2017

Reducing demand must be a core component of combatting wildlife crime, December 2016

The future of wildlife is in our hands, March 2016


Feature Stories

Growing Wildlife-Based Tourism Sustainably: A New Report and Q&A, March 2018

Act now to save wildlife: 5 actions that make a difference, November 2017

Ramping up Nature-Based Tourism to Protect Biodiversity and Boost Livelihoods, May 2017

Engaging Communities in Wildlife Conservation, July 2016

Stunning Sights, Wild Experiences: Nature-Based Tourism A Boon for Emerging Economies, December 2015

Building Intelligence Systems Vital to Protect Elephants in Africa, June 2015

Fighting Wildlife Crime to End Extreme Poverty and Boost Shared Prosperity, July 2014

Why You Should Care About Wildlife, March 2014



Innovations and Actions: 2018 Global Wildlife Program’s 2nd Annual Conference in Zambia, April 2019

Restoring Malawi's Shire River Basin | YouTube , February 2019

iSimangaliso Wetland Park – Transforming lives and Protecting Nature, December 2018

Protecting Elephants from the Air, August 2018

Elephant Defenders: Rangers in Niassa National Reserve, Mozambique (trailer) | YouTube, July 2018

Rangers in Vietnam: Protecting one of the world’s most rare primates | YouTube, July 2018

Rowing a boat to protect Vietnam’s nature, langurs and livelihoods | YouTube, June 2018

Working together to save wildlife and ecosystems | YouTube, November 2017

Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict and Enhancing Coexistence | YouTube, May 2017

Professor Lee White: Will African Elephants Survive This Generation? | YouTube, April 2017


Analyzing Donor Funding Towards the Illegal Wildlife Trade

An Analysis of International Funding to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Trade was launched by the World Bank Group in November 2016, collecting data from 24 international donors. Over the period 2010-2016 more than $1.3 billion was invested in efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade in Africa and Asia, equivalent to approximately $190 million per year. The interactive e-Book on the analysis is supported by interactive data visualizations on the WBG’s mobile data platform Spatial Agent. 

The analysis provides information on geographic and thematic funding flows, but a second phase of this effort also included a deep-dive into some of the projects funded by the donor community and the lessons learned over the course of the project. The GWP donor working group brought 11 donor agencies to discuss and share these lessons to improve project outcomes in the future. To view the case studies that have documented these best practices, click on this interactive tool that can be used to filter through various categories such as donor type, the intervention criteria, or by country. 

Donor Meetings

The World Bank Group hosts quarterly donor meetings where individual donors have the opportunity to share their portfolio highlights. A continuation of the donor analysis to document lessons learned is currently underway, thanks to generous financial support from the government of Germany. The work plan and approach for this effort was launched at a closed meeting for donors in the margins of this 69th meeting of the Standing Committee.

Donor Coordination in Action

Through these vivid and interactive "story maps" you can explore a few of our World Bank and GEF-funded projects.

Quirimbas ranger on patrol, Mozambique
Mozambique Conservation Areas for Biodiversity and Development (MozBio) 
This case is about a five-year World Bank Group and GEF-financed MozBio project that addresses some of the most pressing challenges to conservation areas in Mozambique, which cover 25 percent of the country.

Assam Macaque in the Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area
The Second Lao Environment and Social Project (LENS2)
This case study is on the World Bank and GEF-funded $38.83 million project to help strengthen management of protected areas, wildlife law enforcement, and environmental protection systems. LENS2 aims to improve the capacity and coordination between public institutions, civil society, and concerned communities to manage protected areas and enforce wildlife laws.


The Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The Global Wildlife Program is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and led by the World Bank. Partners include governments of 19 countries in Africa and Asia along with UNDP, ADB and UN Environment.

Global Wildlife Program
1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC