CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is currently meeting (14th-25th Nov. 2022) in Panama to discuss how best to combat wildlife crime.
The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime has launched its Vision 2030 which will guide the Consortium’s work in the decade to come, to support Parties’ efforts to combat wildlife crime and to contribute towards a world free of wildlife crime.
US Government Delegation.
US Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs and Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources Monica Medina will travel to Panama City, Panama, to attend the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES/COP19), November 21-22.
The U.S. delegation is led by the Department of the Interior and includes experts from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the State Department, and interagency partners including USAID. While in Panama, Assistant Secretary Medina will also participate in the Fourth Global Meeting of Wildlife Enforcement Networks – a series of events and dialogues to improve controls surrounding the international trade in endangered and threatened species.
Who is there?
ICCWC is a unique partnership between five intergovernmental organizations to strengthen criminal justice systems and provide coordinated support at national, regional, and international levels to combat wildlife and forest crime.
It brings together Interpol, The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, The World Bank Group, The World Customs Organization, and the CITES Secretariat. Cites is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The Vision aims to contribute significantly to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through the interconnection of wildlife crime to broader environmental and socioeconomic goals and through advocating the importance of criminal justice. Importantly, the work of ICCWC contributes both directly and indirectly to 10 of the 17 SDGs.
What is happening at the conference?
This week, at the 19th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES – or CITES CoP19, Botswana and Panama highlighted, at an ICCWC-hosted event, how the Consortium has contributed to their enforcement efforts and enhanced their responses to combat wildlife crime in recent years.
Successes include a significant increase in the detection of illicit activities online and how authorities have made use of the support available to enhance their responses to wildlife crime linked to the Internet. ICCWC also supported 15 of the 36 successful operations, conducted by Panamanian authorities, that contributed to the investigation of over 41 wildlife crime cases, seizures of 3,000 pieces of Dalbergia Retusa – known as ‘cocobolo’ in Latin America – and over 15 arrests for illegal logging and timber trafficking.
These are a few of the results that CITES Parties have achieved, thanks to support from ICCWC. The ICCWC Vision 2030 follows a Theory of Change methodology, designed to support and strengthen wildlife authorities, police, customs, and entire criminal justice systems to ensure that they are well-equipped and capacitated to effectively respond to the threat posed by wildlife crime. Five critical outcomes have been identified in the Vision for 2030:
- reduced opportunity for wildlife crime;
- increased deterrence of wildlife crime;
- increased detection of wildlife crime;
- increased disruption and detention of criminals; and
- evidence-based actions, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, as a basis for the achievement of the first four outcomes and to drive ICCWC’s impact.
The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Jorge Rodriguez Romero, Head of Unit of the European Commission, DG Environment, joined Parties and ICCWC partners for the launch of the ICCWC Vision and welcomed the support provided by the Consortium and the development of the ICCWC Vision 2030. At the event, DEFRA announced a pledge of £4m towards the ICCWC Vision.
The vision’s importance.
Speaking at the launch, the ICCWC partner organizations highlighted the importance of the Vision for 2030 in combating wildlife crime around the world.
Ivonne Higuero, Secretary-General of CITES, highlighted that:
“Parties are at the forefront of our efforts and CITES is proud to stand alongside our ICCWC partners to continue to support their hard work to combat wildlife crime. We are extremely grateful to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, that announced during the event, their contribution of 4 million GBP that will kick-start the process. Together we can make a difference, together we can overcome the threat posed by wildlife crime, together we are stronger – this is embodied by the work of ICCWC.”
The framework of the ICCWC Vision 2030 provides a roadmap, to be implemented through two 4-year Strategic Action Plans (2023-2026 and 2027-2030) that will enable addressing wildlife crime in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
“ICCWC is not only a mechanism allowing for effective collaboration amongst key international organizations. It is also much more and more importantly, it is about actionable resource bringing concrete benefits to our member countries, and ultimately to the environment and resources that we all depend on,”
said Steven Kavanagh, Executive Director of Police Services at INTERPOL.
“The victims of these crimes are the planet and people; these crimes affect communities and undermine the resilience of ecosystems, and the consequences are severe for our shared future”,
said Ghada Fathi Waly, Executive Director of, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“Wildlife crime is at its heart a development issue. We live in a world today where development is slowing, and the ranks of the extreme poor are swelling. And the three reasons behind this are tied inextricably to natural resources and environmental crime”,
said Valerie Hickey Global Director, Environment, Natural Resources & Blue Economy at the World Bank Group.
“The CITES Conference of the Parties is an excellent forum to gather the international community in assessing our efforts to protect our planet’s most vulnerable species. ICCWC takes this opportunity to present to the international community the ICCWC Vision 2030 and its Action Plan, detailing ICCWC’s future endeavours to disrupt criminal syndicates’ activities and mitigate wildlife and forestry crime at global level”,
said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization.
The ICCWC Vision 2030 outlines the next phase in the continuation of ICCWC’s work and follows the ICCWC Strategic Programme that will come to an end in 2023. Implementation of the ICCWC Strategic Programme has been possible through strong support from the European Union, France, Germany, the Principality of Monaco, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.
The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), a partnership between the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, and the World Customs Organization (WCO) plays a critical role in engaging and working with Parties globally to combat wildlife crime.
These five inter-governmental organizations work together under the auspices of ICCWC using a coordinated and cohesive approach, combining their respective mandates, skills, resources, and expertise to provide Parties with the tools, services, capacity building, and technical support needed to address wildlife crime and bring the criminals involved to justice.
Through technical assistance, tools, training, and operational support, ICCWC works along the entire criminal justice chain, building the capacity of frontline law enforcement in countries and regions around the world affected by wildlife crime.
Sources: US State Dept, CITES & THX News.