GEF Strengthens Financial Support for Efforts to Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade
CEO Naoko Ishii discusses GEF’s four-year program at London Conference
LONDON, February 13, 2014—The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is actively participating in an international conference this week aimed at addressing the devastating impact of poaching and the illegal trafficking of wildlife products. GEF CEO Naoko Ishii told the gathering, organized by the British government, that GEF’s four-year funding strategy includes a greatly strengthened program for financing more effective monitoring and enforcement and reduction of consumer demand to stop this trade.
The illegal trafficking of wildlife products such as elephant tusks and rhino horns is a devastating ecological and economic crime, ranking behind only the drug, weapons, and human trafficking trades among international criminal activities. It is a crime that threatens to eradicate iconic animal species, devastate the ecosystems in which they live, and inflict economic damage on countries that rely on eco-tourism.
In addition to the environmental damage stemming from the illegal wildlife trade, this is also a financial crime, generating about $9 billion per year in illicit profit and, money that finds its way into the hands of criminal gangs and violent insurgent groups. It thus has a devastating impact on local communities, countries and entire regions.
For this purpose Heads of State, ministers from around 50 governments and directors of international institutions worldwide are meeting this week at The London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, to secure high-level political commitment to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
“As a direct response to this calamity, the GEF has redesigned its funding strategy for the next four years to step up its support to stamp out illegal wildlife trafficking. We will make significant funds available to support strengthening national and site-level monitoring and enforcement capacity. More importantly, we will also work on reducing consumer demand for illegally traded wildlife,” said Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson.
Led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary William Hague, and the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, the summit will follow a two-day symposium hosted by the Zoological Society of London and organized by United for Wildlife; a collaboration of seven international conservation NGOs and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
Against the destruction of wildlife populations brought about by the illegal wildlife trade, the London Conference is focusing particularly on developing a response to the threat of extinction of key species such as rhinos, elephants, and tigers that are critical for the ecological and economic sustainability of many protected areas. Joining in the discussion are conservation organizations who are involved in tackling the illegal wildlife trade.
Building on the existing international framework, the Conference aims to express a political commitment to act together to bring to an end to the illegal wildlife trade and address four interlinked aspects of this challenge
- Strengthening law enforcement and the criminal justice system restricting this trade and its implementation, including the stiffening of penalties for poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife ‘products.’
- Increasing investigative tools for tracing illegal acquired animal parts which will reduce demand for illegal wildlife products.
- Supporting the development of sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by the illegal wildlife trade.
- Developing public education and outreach programs to reduce the increasing demand for illegal wildlife products.
The GEF is in the final stages of preparing its four-year GEF-6 funding program, which will take effect July 1.
Read the LONDON CONFERENCE ON THE ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE (http://bit.ly/1cFsC5t).
Contacts: Mr. Christian Hofer, Senior Communication Officer, Phone: +1 202 458 0936, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
Since 1991, GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $11.5 billion in grants and leveraging $57 billion in co-financing for over 3,215 projects in over 165 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 16,030 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $653.2 million.