United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)

International Statement on World Wildlife Day 3 March 2014

"International World Wildlife Day should be a day for a celebration by people everywhere of this planet’s rich diversity in flora and fauna. Across plains, and in oceans and forests, this world teems with life in all its infinite varieties.

Animal and plant life are a source of shared wonder, but we confront failure in our stewardship of this planet’s diversity. Wildlife and environmental crimes, in all their harrowing forms, are destroying this heritage.

Elephants, rhinos, tigers and other wildlife, are being slaughtered for their ivory, skins and for their bones. The killing of animals is a crime without sense. It is fuelling new crimes, including terrorism and other forms of trafficking, as well as devastating the economies of countries; many of whom rely on their biodiversity for tourism.

On 13th February this year, the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, brought concerned Member States and individuals from across the world to discuss this issue. By focusing on reducing the demand for animal parts, while interrupting supply through the seizure of assets and proceeds, the conference’s declaration is another major milestone in our battle against the criminal networks.

UNODC’s approach is to treat wildlife crime as another form of organised crime under the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. As such, UNODC provides  assistance in the areas of anti-money laundering, strengthening law enforcement, enhancing legislation, building capacity in the area of investigations, and in anti-corruption activities under the UN Convention against Corruption.

But there are two other essential areas, where UNODC is active: demand reduction and sustainable livelihoods. To reduce demand, we must change the perceptions of the young and help them break with the harmful traditions of the past that drive these crimes.

Young people are the next generation of potential purchasers of illegal wildlife commodities. Working globally, we can deliver science-based information to young people and help dispel the misinformation. Tourists are another key group that can be helped to appreciate their role in combatting these crimes.

Wildlife crime also has a powerful development dimension. Sustainable livelihoods is an area where local communities building local enterprises can be empowered to live in harmony with their surroundings. We cannot afford to ignore the voices of the vulnerable whose choices are tightly bound to stark economic and social realities.

On the first World Wildlife Day, UNODC pledges to continue its ongoing work with Member States, UN organizations and other partners to help stop these terrible crimes."

Yury Fedotov
Executive Director
UN Office on Drugs and Crime