Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade

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The Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade took place on November 17, 2016 and adopted priority actions to promote the global community to join hands to fight against the illegal trade in wild fauna and flora.

The Conference was chaired by Mr. Ha Cong Tuan – Vietnam Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, attended by Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh – Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Sonxay Siphandone – Deputy Prime Minister of Lao’s People Democratic Republic, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William of the United Kingdom, Yury Fedotov – Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Heads of delegations from 47 countries and regional integrated economic organizations, international organizations, and 7 UN organizations. Conference participants pledged actual actions towards protecting wildlife from extinction from illegal trade.

The Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade is the third international Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade following the success of the ground-breaking London  (2014) and Kasane (2015) Conferences . The Hanoi Statement on Illegal Wildlife Trade, the outcome to the conference, strongly promotes the achievements in implementing the commitments made in the previous conferences  into actions through the voluntary actions proposed by participants to the Hanoi Conference.

Illegal wildlife trade remains one of the main threats leading to the decline of many endangered and rare fauna and flora species, causing the adverse impacts on sustainable development,   natural resources, and local communities, and providing illegal benefits to international crime organizations. Drastic actions by governments are needed to counter these threats .

Participating governments and organizations agreed that specific actions were crucial; it is necessary to execute the existing commitments in a practical and adequate manner along supply chains, including conserving wild fauna and flora populations and their habitats, approaching and collaborating with local stakeholders, promoting sustainable livelihoods, strengthening law enforcement, developing legal systems, and organizing campaigns aimed at reducing the market demand for wildlife products with illegal origin. Thus, fighting against the illegal wildlife trade requires the involvement of law enforcement agencies, judicial authorities, the private sector, conservationists, community groups, specialists and scholars.

 Delivering her speech at the Conference, Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh said: “Along with the commitments and statements, it is critical to turn the commitments into practical  actions and create a mechanism to oversee these actions. In  so, we can ensure the sustainability of our commitments’ ”.

Countries and UN organizations proposed practical actions that contribute to the elimination of supply and demand for illegal wildlife products, strengthen the law enforcement and legislation, and support the development of sustainable livelihoods and benefits for communities that live among nature.

These actions include:

– To strengthen cooperation with enterprises, private sectors and online retailers to take measures to prevent illegal wildlife trade;

– To commit not to use the products from endangered species with illegal origin;

– To support Governments and financial organizations to detect, investigate and dismantle criminal lines related to money laundering and other financial crime related to illegal wildlife trade;

– To strengthen cross-border cooperation and support the wildlife law enforcement networks in the region;

– To connect to communities living in animal-associated areas by minimizing conflicts between humans and wildlife species; to support people in these communities to have them become active partners in the conservation, enable community’s efforts to strengthen the rights, obligations and management capacity, thereby legally getting benefits from wildlife.

– To clarify the link between wildlife crime and other criminal organized activities, even terrorism.

Hanoi Conference was organized at a critical moment for wildlife, as the demand for wildlife products has been sharply increasing for nearly a decade. In hosting the Hanoi Conference,  Vietnam showed determination in collaborating with the global community to fight against wildlife crime.

The United Kingdom announced plans host the next  conference in 2018 to assess the implementation of proposed actions and reaffirm the determination through further positive actions.