IMO to develop guidelines for the prevention and suppression of wildlife trafficking

November 19, 2020

Photo: UNDP

Kenya, 6 October 2020—Member states of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have approved a proposal for the development of guidelines for the prevention and suppression of wildlife smuggling using international shipping, prepared with the support of the UNDP Project Reducing Maritime Trafficking of Wildlife between Africa and Asia under the GEF-financed, World Bank-led Global Wildlife Program (GWP) and submitted to IMO by the Government of Kenya.

The decision was taken at the 44th meeting of the FAL Convention on the facilitation of international maritime traffic on 29 September 2020. 

Wildlife traffickers exploit legitimate transport services, including maritime supply chains, to move their contraband across the world. Maritime transport is the usual method chosen to smuggle bulky non-perishable illegal wildlife products such as ivory, pangolin scales, and timber. In 2019 alone, over 90 tonnes of pangolin scales and 15 tonnes of elephant ivory were seized from containerised cargo transported between Africa and Asia.

Steven Broad, Executive Director, TRAFFIC said: “These incidents represent only a fraction of the true scale of the problem and the commitment by IMO government representatives today is a strong sign in recognition of the importance of inter-agency and cross sectoral collaboration to effectively disrupt trafficking chains.”

Nancy Karigithu, Principal Secretary State Department for Shipping and Maritime at the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, Government of Kenya further emphasized: “With an estimated 72–90% in volume of wildlife products illicitly trafficked by sea, and further recognising the role of the shipping industry in global trade and the global economy, the need to develop these guidelines cannot be understated. Such a move will help highlight the need to address wildlife trafficking as the serious organised transnational crime that it actually is.”

The new guidelines will be developed through a consultative approach between government agencies, the private sector, UNDP and the NGO community to help promote stronger due diligence, transparency and responsibility-sharing by all players in maritime transport.

They will help build more robust capacity in the sector and promote co-operation at national, subregional, regional and international levels so as to strengthen the international response to transnational criminal networks trafficking in wildlife through maritime supply chains.

Allan Jorgensen, Head of Sustainable Trade, Maersk affirmed that “As a member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, our company is fully committed to combat the illegal wildlife trade and we are ready to work with IMO on the development of such guidelines reflecting the roles and responsibilities of companies and authorities.”

UNDP, the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, TRAFFIC and WWF, along with other partner organisations, drawing from their notable experience in working and developing tools to address wildlife trafficking, stand ready to provide their technical support to IMO’s member states for the development of the Guidelines.

On 21st September the IMO, the Government of Kenya, United for Wildlife, TRAFFIC, UNDP, and WWF, co-hosted a webinar on “Accelerating action against Wildlife Trafficking in international maritime supply chains.” The event, which drew over 200 participants, depicted the global scale of wildlife trafficking and its devastating impacts across biodiversity, economic development, security and human health. It also discussed efforts by governments and the private sector to address wildlife trafficking within maritime supply chains. The webinar recording can be viewed here.

To further strengthen efforts in Kenya to curb the local and regional illegal wildlife trade, the GEF-financed GWP project Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trafficking in Kenya through an Integrated Approach, implemented by the Ministry of Tourism of Wildlife of Kenya and supported by UNDP, aims to facilitate the development, official approval, and implementation of the National Strategy to Combat Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade in Kenya as a guiding document in the effort to eliminate wildlife crime in the country.

For more information, contact:

Tamara Tschentscher, UNDP-GEF Knowledge Management Officer