Tackling wildlife crime

 UNDP works with Wildlife Conservation Society, Panthera, IUCN, and Global Environment Facility to protect the habitats of the Asiatic Cheetah & create conservation jobs for local residents to ensure a future for this majestic animal. Photo: Houman Jowkar/ UNDP Iran

Wildlife trafficking is among the five most lucrative illegal trades globally, worth an estimated 23 billion USD annually. It is a multifaceted global threat that erodes biodiversity, ecosystems and creates insecurity that fuels conflict and corruption.  Poaching and wildlife trafficking strip countries of their national assets, disrupt social cohesion, and undermine the rule of law.  

To meet the challenges posed by poaching and wildlife trafficking, we need, not only stronger institutions and law enforcement, but also decisive action on poverty, the expansion of economic opportunity, stronger livelihoods and the full involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making, and greater awareness.

UNDP supports efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, both fauna and flora, drawing on an integrated approach. We leverage our expertise, partnerships, and global networks to support countries eradicate poverty, protect the environment, empower women, and build strong institutions, all of which support the rule of law. UNDP work focuses on diversifying rural livelihoods, managing human-wildlife conflict, and sharing the benefits from sustainable wildlife management.

Some of our initiatives include strengthening effective ranger patrols, helping coordinate on-the-ground communications, intelligence sharing and aerial surveillance. At the national level, we support building national strategies and platforms that facilitate coordination needed for effective country-level responses: policy, customs, intelligence services, judicial systems, and the military. UNDP also supports countries to strengthen management and enforcement in protected areas. At the international level, our work includes advocacy and focuses on mainstreaming anti-trafficking strategies into global transport chains. UNDP facilitates south-south and triangular cooperation between source, transit and consumer countries to harmonize approaches, share technologies, and transfer best practices.  

The UNDP-GEF biodiversity and ecosystems portfolio is the largest in the UN system, covering over 130 countries and 500 projects with USD 1.5 billion in funding and USD 3.5 billion of co-financing. We have helped establish over 2,000 protected areas in 85 countries around the world, covering 272 million hectares of land. Building on this portfolio of work, we are exploring new and innovative partnerships with governments, CITES, sister UN agencies such as UNEP and UNODC, the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility, the United for Wildlife coalition of wildlife conservation organisations, and other multilateral civil society and private sector partners to tackle poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking, and reduce the global demand for wildlife and wildlife products.

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