Helen Clark: Speech at an event hosted by ICCF in recognition of H.E. Filipe Nyusi, President of Mozambique

Sep 14, 2016

About thirty per cent of Africa’s savanna elephant population has been lost in just seven years. Photo credit: UNDP

My thanks go to ICCF Chairman, David Barron, and President, John Gantt, for organizing this evening’s event. 

Tonight we recognize the visionary conservation efforts of HE President Nyusi, who has made fighting wildlife trafficking a priority for his presidency.

I also commend ICCF for their commitment to conservation in Mozambique – as demonstrated by the launch of the Mozambique Parliamentary Caucus on Conservation, and for their many initiatives elsewhere.

Let me highlight just three points on what brings us together here – wildlife conservation. 

First – the indisputable urgency of acting now – before it’s too late…. 

We are all too sadly familiar with the devastating impact of poaching and trafficking on iconic species like elephant and rhino. 

These vulnerable and endangered animals are being pushed towards extinction. According to the Great Elephant Census report released by Paul Allen and his team at Vulcan Inc. last month, about thirty per cent of Africa’s savanna elephant population has been lost in just seven years. 

Tackling the slaughter of wildlife and the multi-billion dollar illicit trade is a profound environmental, development, and security challenge. These criminal acts fuel corruption and conflict, and deepen poverty and inequality. 

Much more must be done to reverse current trends – and the necessary political will and funding must be committed now.

Second – to be successful, all stakeholders need to be on board: national and regional authorities, local communities, civil society, NGOs, and the private sector.

In Mozambique, we have fine models of partnerships. I have been privileged to be briefed by Greg Carr on the extraordinary vision for Gorongosa – and the partnerships with the authorities and the local communities which are bringing both human development and environmental protection to the area. 

Lessons learnt from the Gorongosa experience need to be widely shared, and I hope the success there can be replicated for other communities across Africa.

Third - the UN Development Programme – UNDP - is fully committed to playing its part in tackling wildlife crime.  

UNDP’s biodiversity portfolio is the largest in the UN system. It stands at over $1.5 billion and works across 130 countries.

Tackling wildlife crime is a growing area of our work – in partnership with governments, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the World Bank, other UN agencies, NGOs, and communities. The United States is a major contributor to our work globally.

Our approach is three-pronged: 

• creating sustainable livelihoods for local communities;

• strengthening governance and law enforcement; and 

• raising awareness in recipient countries of the need to close down the illicit wildlife trade.

In Mozambique, we are working closely with the Government and in partnership with the Gorongosa Restoration Project, the Wildlife Conservation Society in Niassa, and the National Agency for Conservation Areas. We are implementing a $15 million project funded by the Global Environment Facility to support:

• implementation of the national strategy to combat illicit wildlife trafficking; 

• strengthen enforcement operations in the Gorongosa and Niassa reserves; and 

• establish new community conservancies to increase protected space for wildlife.

Conclusion

To conclude, the time for action is now. We cannot stand idle while the world’s elephants, rhinoceroses, and other iconic wildlife are being driven to extinction. By working together, we can end the illegal trade in wildlife. UNDP fully commits itself to this cause, and you have my personal commitment to this compelling cause.

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