Save Wildlife: Act Now or Game Over

The Hague Institute for Global Justice was pleased to cooperate with the Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands and the Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit to organize an international conference on wildlife crime from 1-3 March 2016.

The conference brought together key stakeholders, including Ministers from the EU and beyond, private sector leaders, charities and NGOs. The conference focused on how to act on lessons learned and explored new, concrete solutions to tackling wildlife crime and thus save one of the most precious assets of the world. Building upon previous conferences held in London, Kasane and elsewhere, the objective was to identify some of the key international commitments to tackle wildlife crime which now need further efforts to turn them into much desired action.

The conference focused on two themes:  Sustainable livelihoods and economic development, and strengthening law enforcement. In addition to these two themes, The Hague Conference also gave particular attention to the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.

The objectives for the conference in The Hague:

  • Reinforce political commitments and coordination with regard to the design and implementation of effective measures that can conserve wildlife and prevent and combat the drivers of the illegal wildlife trade;
  • Provide a platform to discuss and agree on concrete actions, i.e. Wildlife Deals, to be implemented by different configurations of stakeholders;
  • Promote Wildlife Deals as a concept that takes declarations and resolutions a step further, translating them into actions; and
  • Exchange views on the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which will be presented during a high-level meeting at the conference.

Program

1 March 2016: Drivers
Tuesday 1 March 2016, at the Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus
The conference started with a plenary opening session, where a welcome speech was given by H.E. Martijn van Dam, Chair of the Conference, Minister for Agriculture of the Netherlands. This welcome speech was followed by a keynote speech of John E. Scanlon AM, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The plenary session also included a wildlife quiz and speeches by Dr. Abiodun Williams, President, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and Claudia A. McMurray, Senior Counselor, The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit. The afternoon of day 1 was dedicated to a plenary introduction about the Working Groups and an interactive session.

2 March 2016: Responses
Wednesday 2 March 2016, at the Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus
The second day focused on reaching Wildlife Deals, regarding concrete, actionable measures that seek to ensure wildlife conservation and prevent and combat wildlife crime. A wide range of stakeholders came together in several Working Groups that sought to conclude Wildlife Deals with each other and engage the private sector.

3 March 2016: Action
Thursday 3 March 2016, at the Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus
The third and final day gave the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the previous days and contribute to identifying key challenges and commit to concrete actions.

The Hague Institute co-organized a plenary panel discussion and the following working groups:

Plenary Panel: Preventing and Combatting Wildlife Trafficking – The Role of Law Enforcement and Sustainable Development
This plenary panel discussion focused on the effective prevention and combat of the illegal trade in wildlife, which requires a comprehensive approach that combines law enforcement measures with efforts to facilitate sustainable livelihoods and economic development. Strong and coordinated law enforcement responses at the site, community, national and international levels, and in source, transit and destination countries can help to ensure accountability of perpetrators and deter future offenders. Sustainable development initiatives can facilitate wildlife conservation by raising awareness and building the capacities of local communities to identify and develop viable alternative livelihoods. This panel explored how to combine adequately law enforcement and sustainable development efforts in order to address the root causes of wildlife crime, empower vulnerable groups, and save wildlife. This will be done by examining several practical initiatives and situating them within broader theoretical and policy frameworks. Key elements of this plenary discussion were explored further in working groups on Day 1, in order to identify concrete, actionable measures to conserve wildlife.

Working Group: The Role of Effective Governance in Preventing and Combatting Wildlife Trafficking
Weak and ineffective governance can create conditions that allow the illegal trade in wildlife to flourish. In turn, wildlife trafficking can have a detrimental impact on the health of governance systems and processes. Organized criminal groups are often able to circumvent law enforcement officials through sophisticated fraud or bribery, and frequently launder the illegal proceeds of the trade in wildlife products. The impact of fraud and corruption related to the illegal trade in wildlife can be pervasive, undermining the rule of law, depleting national wealth, impeding economic development, lowering the tax base and creating serious risks to human and environmental security. Strengthening governance systems and processes is therefore imperative. This working group sought to learn from countries and organizations that have been successful in this regard, and conclude several “wildlife deals.” These “deals” brought together different configurations of stakeholders to design and implement joint actions that prevent and/or combat wildlife trafficking through more effective governance.

Working Group: Technology as the New Frontier for Responding to Wildlife Trafficking
As trafficking in wildlife becomes more organized and sophisticated, law enforcement and sustainable development actors must improve their efforts accordingly. Those attempting to prevent and combat the illegal trade in wildlife must devise innovative systems for predictive analysis, intelligence gathering, and monitoring of all facets of the crime including the procurement of products from protected areas. New technologies can advance prevention of wildlife crime, law enforcement and support strategies to reduce demand and raise awareness among consumers and local communities. Developments in the fields of technology and communications offer new possibilities for effective action, for example, through digital monitoring systems and more efficient data collection to prevent wildlife crime. Affordable and accessible communications tools can assist in tracking transit routes, sharing information in real-time and better coordinating responses to poaching and illegal logging. In addition, new technologies can facilitate the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes by providing more reliable evidence. This working group provided a platform for IT experts, law enforcement officials, civil society organizations, academics and private sector representatives to agree upon “wildlife deals,” which represent shared, multistakeholder commitments to exchange knowledge and develop innovative ways to use technology to improve the prevention and combat of wildlife crime and ensure the conservation of endangered flora and fauna.

The conference took place at the Grand Hotel Amrath Kurhaus in The Hague, with a High-level Round Table scheduled on the last day. It was a cooperation between the Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, The Hague Institute for Global Justice and The Prince of Wales’s International Sustainability Unit, and was supported by the European Commission.

ministry-economic-affairs   

For more details about the conference, visit: http://www.savewildlife.nl/

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