WWF-Pakistan And UNODC Sign MoU To Check Illegal Wildlife Trade

WWF-Pakistan and UNODC Sign MoU to Check Illegal Wildlife Trade

WWF-Pakistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday to work together through innovative means to curb illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.

WWF-Pakistan and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Thursday to work together through innovative means to curb illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan.
The collaboration will contribute towards enhancing capacities of relevant law enforcement agencies, in particular Pakistan Customs, to acquaint them about the key aspects of illegal wildlife trade in order to enhance vigilance against wildlife trafficking. Both organizations will also launch joint awareness campaigns to raise awareness on this issue.
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan said that illegal wildlife trade is a persistent conservation challenge that could be managed through collaborative efforts. Illegal wildlife trade is recognised as a translational organised crime due to its lucrative nature and organised criminal networks involved in operating the supply chain of illegal wildlife trade. According to him, this partnership with UNODC will set a benchmark to address the wildlife trafficking issue in the country and further strengthen efforts to support capacity building of Pakistan’s trade monitoring and regulating authorities. “Our previous work has helped unravel the scale of illegal wildlife trade across the country and identify the species which are facing extinction as an outcome of the trade. We rely on the support of partners to highlight and take action against this organized crime,” he said. He further added that WWF-Pakistan has recently initiated a snow leopard conservation initiative focusing on the adoption of a zero-poaching frame-work to protect the species from poaching and illegal trade.

Speaking on the occasion, Cesar Guedes, Representative UNODC said, “Wildlife crime destabilizes ecosystems and alongside habitat destruction, poses a grave threat to endangered wildlife. It does, however, take a greater stretch of the imagination to see how illegal wildlife trade is not solely an environmental injustice, but also undermines state authority, fuels violent conflict and terrorism, impacts national and global security and socioeconomic development. Estimated to generate US$20 billion annually, illegal wildlife trade is one of the largest global illegal activities.”

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) recognizes wildlife crime as the third largest transnational crime after drugs and human trafficking, which undermines state authority and socio-economic development. Illegal wildlife trade has a devastating impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. Guedes also said, “The World Wildlife Crime Report, which was issued in 2016, represents the first global assessment of its kind. The report builds on information taken from World WISE: which unveiled data platforms and contains information of over 164,000 seizures related to wildlife crime from 120 countries. One of the key observations the database illustrates is the extreme diversity of this illegal activity: nearly 7,000 species are included in the seizures, yet no single one represents more than six per cent of the total, nor does a single country constitute the source of more than 15 per cent of the seized shipments." Guedes explained that the collaboration will benefit from WWF’s expertise in educating frontline law enforcement officers to alert them on new risks and will enable them to identify and intercept wildlife that is being trafficked. He also added, “We are happy to be able to contribute in stopping this trend through this initiative.”

This partnership is also well aligned with the objectives of the National Plan of Action developed by WWF-Pakistan in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change and the involvement of relevant stakeholders. The Action Plan provides a roadmap to combat illegal wildlife trade in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan has a long history of working on and addressing the issue of illegal wildlife trade. For the first time in Pakistan, the organization will initiate the first Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), a technology based system to protect wildlife from poaching and illegal trade in the country.

The partnership between WWF-Pakistan and UNODC-WCO’s Container Control Programme (CCP) aims to strengthen collaboration for effective management of illegal wildlife trade through effective coordination, knowledge and information sharing, and institutional capacity building, of the relevant law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan.