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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 estimated economic losses due to illegal logging, fishing, and wildlife trade are $1 trillion–$2 trillion per year — with more than 90 percent of these losses from ecosystem services that are not currently priced by the market. (World Bank 2019)

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. Phase II of the Global Wildlife Program (GWP) was approved by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council in June 2019. The $82 million grant (Phase II) builds on a $131 million grant from Phase I, 2015, allowing the GWP to curb illegal wildlife trade and promote wildlife-based economies in 37 projects across 32 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 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 World Bank Group, 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.

"The GEF investment in the Global Wildlife Program is a timely response to the alarming decline in wildlife around the world as recently stated by the UN Biodiversity report. Addressing illegal wildlife trade and promoting nature-based tourism as a revenue generation mechanism to support protected areas and local communities are of paramount importance in the agenda of the GEF."
Gustavo Fonseca
Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility

"Degrading habitats for wildlife and poaching lead to significant biodiversity loss, threatening the lives and livelihoods of people who depend on them. This is more important for low- income countries where nearly half of their total wealth comes from natural capital. Through the Global Wildlife Program, we will now be able to support a greater number of countries in valuing wildlife as an important natural and economic asset, capable of positively impacting local and national economies. "
Karin Kemper
Karin Kemper
Senior Director, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, World Bank

Supported by:


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 32 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America along with UNDP, UN Environment, ADB and WWF.


Global Wildlife Program
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433