Fighting the illegal wildlife trade
A GREAT BRITISH VIEW - Daniel Pruce (The Philippine Star) - October 11, 2018 - 12:00am

Today, the United Kingdom is hosting the 4th Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference. It is a two-day event that gathers global leaders who are committed to take action on illegal wildlife trade.

The illegal wildlife trade is an important issue for the UK government, and we are committed to working with partners to tackle the growing problem. It is a global issue with acute local impacts. It threatens several iconic species with extinction, but also damages economic growth and sustainable development. It is fuelled by corruption and undermines good governance and the rule of law.

This year’s conference will recognise the illegal wildlife trade as a security issue, affecting people as well as animals. It also aims to strengthen partnerships and build coalitions across borders and beyond government. It will focus on three themes, namely: (i) Tackling the illegal wildlife trade as a serious organised crime: strengthening end to end law enforcement and addressing associated corruption; (ii) Building coalitions: engaging the private sector, NGOs and academia; harnessing technology and innovation; and (iii) Closing markets for illegally traded wildlife.

The Conference will serve as a venue for countries to share and highlight their initiatives and showcase best practices on enhanced law enforcement and effective collaborative action to combat illegal wildlife trade.

I am glad to have met last month, Congresswoman Josephine Ramirez-Sato, who is leading the Philippine delegation to the Conference. I believe her passion and advocacy on the environment, particularly on protecting biodiversity and genetic resources, will make her a strong champion in the Congress on this issue.

I trust that after the Conference the Philippines will continue to work diligently in this important area, including by implementing concrete action plans, policies and programs that will help address the illegal wildlife trade and other related activities in the Philippines. The UK Government will be a strong partner in this respect.

I would note that among the important wildlife species, the Philippine pangolin or Palawan pangolin (Manis culionensis) is facing a serious threat of extinction. This is due to poaching and trading for its meat and scales, for food and traditional medicine. There are eight species of pangolins around the world, and the rarest is found in the Philippines, particularly in northern and central part of Palawan. Pangolins are categorised as critically endangered, with populations having declined 50 percent over a period of 21 years. Mr Field, the UK’s Minister for Asia and the Pacific, had an excellent conversation on this issue with Senator Legarda, who was keen to do whatever she could to help, when he visited the Philippines in August.

In this light, I am delighted to announce that under the Illegal Wildlife Trade Fund for the Philippines, the UK Government will support projects that are geared towards increasing awareness of IWT (including ivory). They will also help to strengthen regulation and enforcement to address IWT, and eradicate markets for illegal wildlife, products and derivatives through activities that include information, education and communication campaigns, training to policy makers, regulators, implementing agencies and communities, and review of reporting, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

This fund is expected to provide innovative solutions that will improve the enforcement of provisions of the existing law of the Philippines on Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act.

Let’s continue our fight against illegal wildlife trade to protect and conserve wildlife for our future generations.

* * *

(Daniel Pruce is the British Ambassador to the Philippines. Twitter @DanielPruce)

ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE WILDLIFE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION ACT
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