High-Level Stakeholder Dialogue with CITES, UNDP, UNEP, GRASP, UNODC

16th Mar 2015 Events, Media

To commemorate World Wildlife Day 2015 and honor their commitments to protecting wildlife and stopping wildlife crimes, the Permanent Missions of Gabon, Germany and Thailand to the United Nations, in collaboration with CITES, UNDP, UNEP, GRASP, UNODC, the World Bank (WB), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) gathered at the WCS Central Park Zoo on 3 March for a high-level panel discussion on the issue. The discussion highlighted the importance of international coordination aimed at both the supply and demand sides of illegal poaching and trade. Panelists reviewed strategies to combat illegal wildlife trade, such as curbing international demand, improving intelligence and border control, strengthening regional law enforcement and prosecution capabilities, and facilitating community-based natural resource management approaches that give local communities greater voice and control in protecting resources. The participants also discussed the importance of raising public awareness to reduce demand, including the World Wildlife Day global social media campaign, which reach over 15 million followers around this year’s theme: “It’s time to get serious about wildlife crime.” As Sue Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at WCS, said, “We know what to do; now we have to do it!”

The WCS Central Park Zoo event was attended by over 100 representatives from Member States, development organizations, civil society, the private sector, and media. The event included high-level speaker remarks and a moderated, interview-style panel and interactive dialogue. Welcoming remarks were provided by Nik Sekhran, Director of the Sustainable Development Cluster at UN Development Programme and Cristián Samper, President and CEO of WCS. Joint remarks were offered by Ambassador Marianne Bibalou, Chargée d’Affaires of Gabon, Ambassador Harald Braun, Permanent Representative of Germany, and Ambassador Chayapan Bamrungphong, Chargé d’Affaires of Thailand. Opening remarks were also shared by John Scanlon, Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), and Oyun Sanjaasuren, President of the UN Environment Assembly.

Moderated by Dan Harris, Nightline Anchor at ABC News, a panel discussion explored the “Links between Illegal Wildlife Trade, Crime, and Sustainable Development” and included Aldo Lale-Demoz, Deputy Executive Director at UN Office of Drugs and Crime, Nik Sekhran, Director of the Sustainable Development Cluster at UN Development Programme, Doug Cress, Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) Programme Coordinator at UN Environment Programme, Sue Lieberman, Vice President of International Policy at WCS, and Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at US State Department.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries offered a video statement to recognize importance of addressing wildlife crime.  Several Public Service Announcements   were showcased including UNEP & UNDP  (can we add titles?)–videos that demonstrate the power of the celebrity voice and featured UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Li Bingbing; videos from WCS xxxxx and GRASP, which highlight the experience and plight of elephants and great apes, as well as other species; and  testimony from Equator Prize winner and community champion, Josephine Ekiru, from northern Kenya.

An open dialogue followed, including (provocative) comments by Valerie Hickey, WB Environment Practice Manager, Benito Perez, Strategic and Operational Advisor of the Environmental Security Sub-Directorate at INTERPOL, Michael Casey, Science and Technology Editor at CBSNews.com, Bryan Arroyo, Assistant Director for International Affairs at US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Crawford Allan, Senior Director at TRAFFIC. Closing remarks were provided by Aldo Lale-Demoz, UNODC.

A reception followed the high-level panel, with welcoming remarks by Patricia Beneke, Regional Director of UNEP Regional Office for North America and Nadya Hutagalung, the new GRASP Ambassador. An impressive exhibit of  confiscated wildlife products was organized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, New York District.