Posted on 28 September 2021
Though commendable efforts have been made to combat wildlife crime, these illicit activities continue; as do the threats they pose. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, impetus is high to counteract the spread of zoonoses – and recognise the implications of unsustainable, high-risk, illegal wildlife trade (IWT) and its impact on animal welfare, human health, and the balance of ecosystems.
To this end, development partners active in combating IWT in Asia were brought together a Regional Counter Wildlife Trafficking Partnership Forum. The event aimed to strengthen collaboration, planning, and strategies to end IWT in the post-pandemic landscape – as well as announce new programs and investments and ensure these efforts align.
The virtual event took place September 21-23, and was hosted by the Government of Thailand through the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and USAID Wildlife Asia in collaboration with WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), the ASEAN Secretariat, Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank, Global Wildlife Program, Global Environment Facility, and United Nations Development Program.
The WWF Asia Pacific Counter IWT Hub hosted a ”Development Partners Dialogue”, which included discussions on donor support of Asian countries in their counter-wildlife trafficking (CWT) efforts, and coordination techniques moving forward.
During the event, development partners launched a new IWT Donor Coordination Platform to help streamline investments and donor approach in the region. Various mechanisms of the tool were presented, including record-keeping of data on past and current CWT projects, and analyses of data such as donor funding and co-financing for ASEAN Member States and target species – as well as how to expand and institutionalize the tool.
Minister Varawut Silpa-archa, Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said: “I sincerely believe that our endeavor will further our movement towards the achievement of ending the illegal trade in wildlife and will eventually contribute to the betterment of our natural resources and environment. I wish that our virtual forum today will advance our coordinated action towards a more sustainable and resilient future.”
Other actions agreed upon during the forum include:
- Partners will also develop a regional CWT Development Partner Coordination Platform, with ADB acting as Interim Chair.
- Partners to regularly update the IWT Project Map and Database with new project information. The tool may also be institutionalized and officially administered.
- Partners will consult with governments, making sure to capture country needs, close existing gaps, and develop joint solutions.
- Some partners agreed to revisit their approach to project design, as it was highlighted that a plethora of small projects risks the creation of isolated CWT “bubbles”, which do not align with the goal to fight wildlife crime in a more coordinated manner.
All these actions will achieve a more holistic approach to tackling IWT by streamlining efforts, facilitating information sharing, avoiding overlap, informing planning, and maximizing benefits. It is hoped that, in addition to insightful fora like this one, coordination among Development Partners in Asia will become more frequent, structured, and impactful. This Forum was one steps of many in the right direction to achieve this – and to work
towards the objective of improving wildlife conservation and human well-being in the region and worldwide.
For any queries, please contact:
Winnie Ng, WWF-Hong Kong, Email: email@example.com | Tel: +852 96409040