The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) welcomes the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which was announced today – just a few days ahead of World Wildlife Day. Illegal trade in animals and plants has surged in recent years, and with the EU playing a pivotal role as a major market and transit point for trade in wildlife, international action is urgently needed.
Wildlife trafficking, the illegal cross-border trade in animals and plants, has transformed into one of the largest transnational organised criminal activities alongside drug trafficking, arms and human trafficking. It has developed into a multi-billion dollar business due to the fact that it is enormously lucrative while there is little risk to the perpetrators of being caught. In case this does happen, sentences these criminals face are relatively light.
Levels of illegal trade in many species and derivatives, including African elephant ivory, pangolins and white rhino horn, have reached unprecedented levels in recent years and threaten the local extinction of populations. However, many other species, such as large cats, turtles, cycads, marine fishes, orchids and timber are also subject to alarming levels of illegal trade underlining the need for concerted action to tackle this trade.
“Every year, we see an increase in policy attention on wildlife trafficking,” says Luc Bas, Director of the IUCN European Regional Office in Brussels. “But the international community as a whole is still lagging behind in responding to the current crisis. The EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking should be welcomed as in important step forward in coordinating a strategic response to wildlife trafficking.”
The EU’s unique role in combatting wildlife trafficking
The EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking sets out a robust and measured set of responses that will allow the EU to develop its unique role in combatting illegal wildlife trade. The Action Plan further targets the entire supply chain of illegal trade in wildlife, from source to transit to end consumer. It seeks to reduce demand for wildlife products traded illegally among end consumers, increase business sector engagement in efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and encourage sustainable sourcing of wildlife products, to tackle corruption associated with wildlife trafficking, and ensure wildlife trafficking regulations in the EU are fully implemented.
Crucially, the Action Plan also recognises the important role that rural communities can play in solutions to illegal wildlife trade, for example by strengthening their engagement in the management and conservation of wildlife. “The European Union can play a major role in stifling the illegal wildlife trade,” says Richard Jenkins, Deputy Director of IUCN’s Global Species Programme. “IUCN welcomes the new Action Plan, because it offers an opportunity to catalyse a coordinated international response that is proportional, holistic, and makes decisions based on strong evidence.”
IUCN and wildlife trafficking
IUCN works to promote the conservation and sustainable use and trade of wild species including convening stakeholders to devise solutions to illegal wildlife trade. IUCN provides objective advice and scientific expertise on species affected by this trade; implements on-the-ground conservation work through Save our Species and the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme; is part of global coalitions scaling up responses to illegal wildlife trade, including United for Wildlife and TRAFFIC which is a strategic alliance of IUCN and WWF. TRAFFIC is a wildlife trade monitoring network and the leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focusses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation, with almost 1,300 government and NGO Members and more than 15,000 volunteer experts in 185 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by almost 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world.
For more information
Joop Hazenberg, EU Communications Officer at the IUCN European Regional Office, +32 496 70 36 38, [email protected]
Lynne Labanne, Communications Officer Global Species & Key Biodiversity Areas Programme at IUCN Headquarters, +41 22 999 0153, [email protected]