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Historic Declaration to Fight Wildlife Crime

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By MarEx 2016-03-15 18:24:39

The signing of a new declaration committing leaders of the global transportation industry to major steps to fight wildlife trafficking has been hailed by The Duke of Cambridge as “a game changer in the race against extinction.”

Forty CEOs and other senior figures of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organizations and conservation charities, including TRAFFIC, have become the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products during an event that took place on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace in the U.K. 

The Buckingham Palace Declaration is the result of a year’s worth of meetings, research, and coalition building by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, convened by The Duke of Cambridge and chaired at His Royal Highness’s request by Lord Hague of Richmond. Transport representatives on the Taskforce include companies and organizations based in China, Denmark, Kenya, UAE, the U.K. and U.S.

The Buckingham Palace Declaration commits signatories to eleven commitments that will raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to move their products covertly from killing field to marketplace. The commitments focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements and resource sharing across companies and organizations worldwide. They will also see the world’s leading transportation firms assisting those in poorer nations who are in need of expertise and new systems. 

The commitments in the Buckingham Palace Declaration include:
•    Developing information sharing systems for the transport industry to receive credible information about high risk routes and methods of transportation
•    Supporting a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade from the transport sector to relevant customs and law enforcement authorities
•    Notifying relevant law enforcement authorities of cargoes suspected of containing illegal wildlife and their products and, where able, refuse to accept or ship such cargoes.

The work of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce has been strongly supported not only by the transport sector but a number of intergovernmental agencies including the World Customs Organization, the United Nations Development Programme and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)—the world's regulatory instrument on trade in endangered species.

The Duke of Cambridge said: “The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.

“But this crisis can be stopped. We know where the animals are that we need to protect. We know where the markets for wildlife products are and where awareness, education and law enforcement need to be improved. And with the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to market place.

“By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction. I thank them for their commitment, and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis.”

In October 2015, the USAID ROUTES (Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species) Partnership was established with a five-year mandate of collaboration and implementation of activities to assist the transport sector in efforts to reduce wildlife trafficking via land, sea and air. Funded by USAID (the United States Agency for International Development) and led by TRAFFIC, ROUTES has established collaboration across government agencies, transportation and logistics industry representatives, international conservation organizations and donors.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (“SSI”) – a pioneering coalition of companies from across the global shipping industry – has signed the declaration along with other shipping organizations including Maersk Group, China COSCO Shipping, Dubai Ports World and the U.K. Chamber of Shipping.   

Alastair Fischbacher, CEO, the Sustainable Shipping Initiative commented: “The declaration is a welcome and necessary step in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking. The SSI wholeheartedly supports its aims, and it is an example of how shipping can take ownership and responsibility for improving wider areas of sustainability, working together and helping other transportation and conservation industries, along with local communities, to make a substantial difference on important global issues, such as the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking.”

The declaration is available here.

The full list of signatories is available here.