Ian Saunders

WCO Secretary General

WCO Secretary General, Ian Saunders

Greetings from the World Customs Organization as you celebrate World Wildlife Day 2024.

As in previous years on 3 March, the United Nations calls for a profound shift in our approach to the use of natural resources and our interactions with the environment – both in our daily lives and in business.

The WCO is pleased to actively respond each time to the call because we are conscious of the key role played by Customs in international trade, including wildlife trade and wildlife conservation. I am also pleased that the WCO has been a longstanding partner in your efforts, grounded in a MOU signed between our organizations in 1996.

The theme chosen for this year’s celebration, “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”, is one that fits with the importance that digital transformation has in Customs’ agenda and the role digital innovation can play in supporting Customs processes – for the facilitation of legitimate trade or the enforcement of legal obligations.

Digital transformation of business processes and operations and employing Single Window mechanisms ensure that data that need to be submitted to Customs by other public authorities and trade actors can be made available seamlessly, increasing transparency and efficiency in clearance.

Such digital innovations can also improve enforcement of CITES provisions at the border, through, for example, the integration of CITES electronic permits into Customs processes. This can contribute to both biodiversity protection and the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Digital innovations are also used to support the development of efficient partnerships, ones that accomplish real-world results in support of wildlife conservation.

The fight against illicit wildlife trade is something to which the WCO is committed, as a Member of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, and reflects our organization’s theme for 2024: Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partnerships with Purpose.”

I wish you a Happy World Wildlife Day.

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