This week, London will host the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference 2018. But why is it important? And will it make a difference to the world’s wildlife? Here’s everything you need to know in six key points…
The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference will take place in Battersea Park, London, on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th October 2018.
Most people immediately switch off at the thought of a bunch of stiff officials sitting in another stuffy conference venue somewhere in the world discussing the future of wildlife. It may sound dull, boring, and a world away from the plains of Africa or the jungles of South America where the animals are, but conservation doesn’t always happen in the field. In reality, conferences like this are where the big decisions are made.
High-profile conferences like this bring everybody together, explains Chief Inspector Louise Hubble, Head of the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit. “Everybody across the world is trying to tackle the fight against wildlife crime and without meetings like this we wouldn’t have that opportunity to network, to engage, to share best practice, to learn from each other and to develop those contacts in other countries that we need to work with to tackle wildlife crime globally."
This is the fourth global conference on the illegal wildlife trade to take place. According to the UK government, its aim is to “bring together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction”.
As many as 1,500 people are expected to attend, including delegates from 85 countries, heads of state, ministers, international organisations, NGOs, academia, celebrities and the business sector. Born Free will be represented by a six-strong delegation, including CEO Howard Jones, Head of Policy Mark Jones and Youth Ambassador Bella Lack – who will be speaking at the conference.
The conference is expected to generate headlines around the world, so you’re bound to hear about it in the news. As at previous conferences, the country delegates who attend are expected to sign a ‘declaration’ that pledges to fight wildlife crime and protect wild animals in their natural habitats. The last conference, held in Vietnam in 2016, for example, called for legislation that would identify illegal wildlife trade involving organised criminal groups as a serious crime. The UK government is also expected to use the conference to promote its domestic ivory trade ban which is currently working its way through Parliament.