Helen Clark: Speech at Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking: Towards Joint Action by the International Community

Sep 26, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Speech at
Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking: Towards Joint Action by the International Community
New York

I am pleased to join you today at this very important luncheon on Poaching and Illicit Wildlife Trafficking.

A year ago today, on the margins of the last United Nations General Assembly, Germany and Gabon came together to highlight the increasing threat of illicit wildlife trafficking and the ramifications for the international community. We congratulate those countries for their leadership in doing so then, and again now.

In the last year, the international community has stood up to face this issue head on, with high level meetings and discussions across the world, in Botswana, France, the UK, Tanzania, and Kenya to name a few. Ivory destructions have taken place across the world, from Chad to Gabon, from China to the United States. National governments have taken action at strategic and operational levels to tackle the issue. Additional finance has become available, such as the recent GEF replenishment, and new projects and initiatives are taking shape across affected parts of the globe.

Also in this last year, we have seen leadership from the five African nations which signed up to the Elephant Protection Initiative in London in February: Gabon, Botswana, Chad, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. In June I had the pleasure of joining her Excellency, the Frist Lady of Kenya, at an event calling attention to their #HandsOffOurElephants campaign.

Thus we can take stock today, and be glad that this issue is ever higher on the international agenda. But we also need to realize there is much yet to be done to rid the world of wildlife crime. The problem is far from over.

South Africa lost 1,004 of its rhino population in 2013 alone, all to poaching. At least 20,000 African elephants were killed that same year. Tiger and snow leopard populations are threatened by illicit trafficking in Asia, and the Asiatic cheetah under pressure in the Middle East. The threat continues.

This is not just about individual species being lost from the wilds. This is a human development issue. Lives are being lost as rangers confront poachers, rural communities are being torn apart by poaching, and tourism numbers are at risk of falling in countries which desperately need the income. Wildlife crime equates to the theft of a public good.

In our international response, we must continue to utilise key international instruments we have at our disposal to tackle this issue: the Convention on International Trafficking in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).

At UNDP we address the poaching crisis through a three-pronged approach which aims at creating sustainable livelihoods for communities; strengthen governance and law enforcement; and reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products. We are delivering support at the national and site level on a country-by-country basis and stand by to continue to do so.

We can do more, and we must. UNDP brings to the table its global expertise in building strong institutions and the rule of law, and on poverty eradication and environmental protection. We reiterate our commitment to joining all represented here in combatting the scourge of wildlife trafficking in through our ongoing strategic, technical, and financial support. Let’s make sure we co-ordinate our efforts for maximum effect.

As UNDP, we pledge to do whatever we can to curb poaching and stop the vile and illicit wildlife trade and look forward to strengthening our collaboration with all partners in this effort.

Thank you.

UNDP Around the world