Helen Clark: Speech at the London High Level Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Feb 13, 2014

Speech at the
London High Level Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade
United Kingdom

I thank the Government of the United Kingdom for hosting this important conference on illegal wildlife trade.

This vile trade is a development, environmental, and security challenge. It is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction, fuelling corruption and conflict, and putting lives and livelihoods at risk. At UNDP, we are committed to helping to stop this trade, contributing through our global presence and our expertise in governance, the rule of law, poverty eradication, and environmental protection.

We see addressing rural poverty and creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods as a critical element in turning the tide on wildlife poaching and trafficking.

Inherent in that is the need to bring communities on board. Community-based natural resource management is effective in reducing illegal wildlife trade. It encourages local support for conservation through income generation, and it helps with the management and monitoring of the whole ecosystem, including wildlife.

If local communities are kept out of the equation, they may turn a blind eye to poaching, or, driven by poverty, may be recruited into poaching gangs. But if they get a bigger share of the revenues from tourism and more secure rights to land and natural resources to support their livelihoods, and if measures are put in place to protect their crops, livestock, and lives from the dangers of human-wildlife conflict, then they will be an important part of the solution to the trafficking problem.

UNDP already works closely with partners in a number of countries to design and implement public, private, and community-level partnerships which co-manage wildlife resources.

In Namibia, this work led to a Protected Areas system with rights devolved to communities. The system includes 59 Community Conservancies with more than 230,000 members who manage and conserve their own areas. The result has been massive recovery of wildlife populations outside national parks and reduced poaching throughout the country.

Strengthening governance is also critical to combating the illegal wildlife trade. UNDP is bringing its expertise in law reform and enforcement, fighting corruption, and building the capacity of institutions to the task, linking it to our Global Anti-Corruption Initiative.

In Tanzania, which suffers so grievously from the illegal wildlife trade, UNDP has worked with the Government on the national strategy to eradicate elephant poaching and ivory trafficking. The strategy aims to strengthen law enforcement, improve the livelihoods of affected communities, and promote international dialogue.

UNDP contributed to funding Tanzania’s elephant census and to the organization of the recent roundtable on the country’s poaching and trafficking challenge. At the Government’s request, we will be co-ordinating donor support for implementing the strategy. As global co-ordinator of the UN development system, and as an active participant in donor forums at the country level, we are well placed to support governments to co-ordinate anti-poaching and anti-trafficking efforts.

Our engagement with wildlife protection extends beyond Africa, and includes our support for the Global Tiger Recovery Programme and the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme.

UNDP’s work on wildlife protection has benefited enormously from funding through the Global Environment Facility – the GEF, which is currently concluding the replenishment of its funding base. A strong replenishment is essential for the GEF to be able to continue supporting comprehensive national, community, and cross-border strategies on wildlife trafficking as provided for in its biodiversity strategy.

In conclusion, UNDP sees a strong role for development actors working alongside governments and communities to stop the illegal wildlife trade. We hope that today’s conference will generate even stronger commitments to that end. At UNDP, we will do whatever we can to contribute, and we recognise that much more can and must be done.

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