The futures of conservation, human welfare, and the economy have one thing in common: they are each impacted negatively by the illegal trade of wildlife and wildlife products. Wildlife trafficking is the fourth largest global crime, just behind the drug trade, arms trade, and human trafficking, and shows no signs of slowing down.
When most people think of the victims of wildlife trafficking, they often picture elephants, tigers, rhinos, pangolins, and other species sought for their furs, meat, or ivory. The illegal wildlife trade certainly poses a threat to saving these and other IUCN red-listed species from extinction. Yet we must not forget that wildlife trafficking is a multifaceted, international crisis which impacts local communities and businesses as well. It is a complex issue that requires a “whole civil society approach,” and the inclusion of non-traditional actors.
Wildlife traffickers rely on global supply chains to transport and trade illicit goods. The private sector, across its industries, has a unique consumer base that can be educated and mobilized to reduce global demand, thus eliminating the value of illegal goods in the marketplace. Every single person, regardless of where they live or shop, has the potential to be an informed consumer.
The AZA is leading partnerships between non-profits, private businesses, government agencies, and other stakeholders through the Wildlife Trafficking Alliance, a coalition of over 70 organizational members including accredited zoos and aquariums. Last month, AZA’s WTA proposed a motion to theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), supporting the role of the private sector in combatting wildlife trafficking. I am pleased to announce that our motion was accepted and will be included at the World Conservation Congress in France in June 2020.
The resolution requests that the private sector work in partnership with IUCN members to implement strategies that combat wildlife trafficking. Specifically, the resolution requests that the private sector, in partnership with IUCN members, develop and implement strategies that seek to combat wildlife trafficking, such as:
a. Implementing strong corporate policies that seek to close supply chains and thwart the transport and trade of illegal wildlife and wildlife products;
b. Utilizing owned communications channels to amplify unified messaging to combat wildlife trafficking, engaging consumers in efforts to reduce global demand;
c. Working in partnership with law enforcement to comply with international and domestic wildlife laws and create internal and external reporting mechanisms for suspicious activity.
I am confident that by working together, we can bring an end to the illegal wildlife trade and conserve threatened species for generation to come. I welcome your support of our IUCN motion, which is open for comment by IUCN members, beginning December 11.