The signing of a new declaration at Buckingham Palace committing the leaders of the global transportation industry to major steps to fight criminal wildlife trafficking has been hailed by The Duke of Cambridge as 'a game changer in the race against extinction.'
40 CEOs, Chairmen, and other leaders of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities from around the world have become the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration is the result of a year's worth of meetings, research, and coalition building by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, convened by The Duke of Cambridge and chaired at His Royal Highness's request by Lord Hague of Richmond. Transport representatives on the Taskforce include companies and organisations based in China, USA, UAE, Kenya, the UK and Denmark.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration commits signatories to eleven commitments that will raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to covertly move their products from killing field to marketplace. The commitments focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide. They will also see the world's leading transportation firms assisting those in poorer nations who are in need of expertise and new systems.
The work of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce has been strongly supported not only by the transport sector but a number of intergovernmental agencies including the World Customs Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and importantly the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) – the world's regulatory instrument on trade in endangered species.
The Duke of Cambridge said:
"If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday. The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.
"But this crisis can be stopped. We know where the animals are that we need to protect. We know where the markets for wildlife products are and where awareness, education, and law enforcement need to be improved. And with the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to market place.
"By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction. I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis."
Lord Hague said:
"Tackling this issue is a moral imperative for us all. It is of concern to all nations, to billions of people, and is about the ultimate preservation of some of our world's most iconic species.
"The Declaration that we are signing today, developed by industry, NGOs, governments, and intergovernmental organisations, will target the chain between suppliers and consumers of this illicit trade.
"I want to thank everyone who has been part of this unprecedented initiative and I ask them all to sustain the momentum we have established over the past 15 months.
"It is nearly too late to save our rhinos, elephants, tigers, and other iconic species, but it is not quite too late. It will require our combined efforts, resolve, and intensified determination and that is what this Declaration is about."
The commitments in the Buckingham Palace Declaration include:
- Developing information sharing systems for the transport industry to receive credible information about high risk routes and methods of transportation
- Supporting a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to relevant customs and law enforcement authorities
- Notifying relevant law enforcement authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able, refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.
United for Wildlife, the global coalition of conservation organisations of which The Duke is President, will now turn its attention to the implementation of the commitments.
The Zoological Society of London's Conservation Programmes Director, Jonathan Baillie, said:
“Many important members of the transport sector have made strong commitments today to help stop the transport of illegally traded species. They have now really set the bar for other members of the private sector such as finance, tourism and extractives, to follow suit as we strive to address this critical element of the illegal wildlife trade.”
About United for Wildlife
United for Wildlife is an unprecedented alliance between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
The collaboration between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Conservation International (CI), Fauna & Flora International (FFI), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF-UK and The Royal Foundation hopes to lead the way to substantially increase the global response to major conservation crisis.
- To learn more about United for Wildlife visit: http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/