Earlier today, heads of state who attended the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference 2018 in London signed a Declaration promising to increase action to tackle the illicit financial flows associated with wildlife trafficking and related corruption, and welcomed action to treat wildlife offences as predicate offences, including for money laundering crimes.
Reacting to the news, Born Free’s Head of Policy, Dr Mark Jones, said: “It was good to see the UK hosting this event and persuading more than 80 countries to send representatives, including several heads of state and ministers, bringing political and public attention to this issue.
“It was also good to see the UK commit to contributing £250m to the United Nations Global Environment Facility by 2022; invite wildlife and conservation organisations to apply for funds from the £20m UK Aid Match Scheme; and contribute further to the Elephant Protection Initiative.
“And it was also good to see the launch of the Financial Task Force under William Hague’s leadership, and the Ivory Alliance under Michael Gove, at the conference.
“But the lack of tangible, clear, time-bound, measurable commitments by attending governments within the Declaration leaves a feeling of an opportunity missed, and will make it hard to hold governments to account in spite of their fine words.
“There was an opportunity to seek commitments from Governments to implement their existing commitments to CITES and other relevant international agreements in full. There was an opportunity for donor Governments to link action on IWT to overseas aid and trade agreements. There was an opportunity for the UK Government to commit to cleaning up its act domestically and increasing the seriousness with which domestic wildlife crime is considered, which is currently woeful.
“All of these opportunities have been missed, and the world’s beleaguered wildlife may continue to suffer as a result.
“Born Free will continue to work with Governments and other stakeholders to tackle the scourge of wildlife trade and trafficking.”