UNDP Statement by the Chief of Profession for Sustainable Development, Nik Sekhran at Kasane IWT Conference

Mar 25, 2015

Your Excellences, Honourable Delegates

The United Nations Development Programme would like to thank the Government of the Republic of Botswana for hosting this important international conference on the illegal wildlife trade here in Kasane. We also recognise the valuable support of the United Kingdom and other countries in this process.

UNDP, through our Administrator, Helen Clark, was able to participate in the UK-hosted international conference on illegal wildlife trade in London in February last year. We are glad to be represented again today.

The illegal wildlife trade is a scourge that is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction; fuelling corruption and conflict; destroying lives; and deepening poverty and inequality. Combating the illegal wildlife trade is a development issue, at the heart of the poverty-environment nexus, and as such is central to UNDP’s core mission.

UNDP takes a three-pronged approach to tackling illegal wildlife trade, an approach that is embedded into the various global, regional and national initiatives in which we are engaged. These are:

1. Through expanding economic opportunities and livelihood options;
2. By strengthening governance, enforcement, and coordination, and;
3. By raising awareness and nurturing international cooperation including through the UN resident coordinator system at the country level.

At the London conference we mentioned our existing support for illegal wildlife trade-related work in over 20 countries in Africa and Asia, our support to enforcement in protected areas worldwide and our ongoing support to global programmes like the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme.

Since then a great deal has been done, and some key initiatives have emerged this year. At the London conference, we heard from the governments of Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania, about the launch of the Elephant Protection Initiative, the EPI. I would like to congratulate those five nations for their leadership and vision. UNDP supports the EPI as a mechanism to secure private and public support for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan

UN engagement has increased over the last year from a range of agencies including UNDP, UNEP and UNODC. The UN heads of agencies have come together to assess the means to further enhance how we collaborate, both corporately and at the country level. We coordinated two interagency events on World Wildlife Day recently, working with member states, UN Agencies, the World Bank, NGOs like our friends WCS, and others to garner international awareness and plan further collaborations in the near future.

UNDP has been active again this year, working with member states and development partners. For example, we’ve worked closely with Tanzania which released its national strategy to combat poaching and illegal trade and assisted that government with related national and regional actions addressing wildlife crime in May and November last year. We have announced a partnership in Kenya with the Office of the First Lady, which includes working closely with UK DFID. We have joined hands with United for Wildlife as a member of a new transport taskforce unveiled by HRH the Duke of Cambridge late last year and look forward to supporting that further.

The Global Environment Facility is playing a key role in addressing this issue, helping finance assistance to tackling illegal wildlife trade. We are proud to work closely with the GEF Secretariat and GEF agencies, including the World Bank, UNEP, IUCN and others; UNDP is supporting a new programme of work to finance solutions to the illegal wildlife trade. As a result we have new multi-million dollar initiatives taking shape at the country level in an increasing number of African and Asian countries including for example in Ethiopia, where just last week we saw a courageous and symbolic burning of seized illegal ivory, the latest of several key countries to take such a stance.

We are also working on various global initiatives. For example we are pleased to be supporting a new model for financing protected areas and enforcement called Rhino Impact Bonds, a performance-based funding mechanism to bring private investor funds into rhinoceros conservation, that has the potential to be scaled up to address the protection of other species and habitats.

Ahead of us we have the realisation of the actions of the urgent measures of the African Elephant summit two days ago and the actions from the Kasane Statement we expect to see today. Plus there are other opportunities such as the forthcoming Brazzaville conference that may offer a chance for an Africa-wide strategy on illegal wildlife trade.

A final word—lets get to grips with the problem; let’s start seeing the realisation of indicators we have collectively set ourselves: fewer animals poached, reduced poverty around wildlife areas, more community ownership of land and economic opportunities around wildlife areas, more arrests, more convictions, more seizures, more jail sentences of the kingpins, more collaboration, better strategies, better tactics, better operations. Lets join and fight this scourge. UNDP stands ready to continue to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. Thank you.
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