To help African countries protect their wildlife, UNDP jointly with partners is beginning to programme USD 60 million to support frontline conservation efforts. This new Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and World Bank funding will assist in creating incentives for conservation and ensure better management of wildlife protected areas. UNDP will also fund activities which will help tackle poaching through more investments in law enforcement, improving the capacity of judicial systems, and putting in place stronger wildlife laws and policies.
Speaking at, the Space for Giants forum, a high level conservation event in Kenya, the UNDP Administrator Ms. Helen Clark called on the World to urgently put in place measures to stop wildlife crime including poaching and trafficking of wildlife trophies. She emphasized the critical social-economic role played by wildlife to communities living close to wildlife areas. Stating that, “Wildlife poaching and the illicit trade of wildlife and forest products are abhorrent. This multi-billion dollar worldwide trade is a security issue, an environmental issue, and a development issue. It is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction. The illicit trade is also fueling corruption and conflict, destroying lives, and deepening poverty and inequality.”
Ms. Clark was on an official mission to promote wildlife conservation on the African continent, she also participated in the world’s largest destruction of elephant tusks and rhino horns spearheaded by the Government of Kenya. Speaking at the event the Kenyan President, H.E Uhuru Kenyatta stated that by killing elephants the continent risked losing its heritage in addition to destroying the highly beneficial tourism industry which has faced numerous threats in the recent past.
“No one has any business trading in ivory, for this trade means death of our elephants and death of our national heritage. In destroying the ivory, we reject once and for all, those who think our natural heritage can be sold for money” he said.
He urged all stakeholders to become custodians of the planet and its wildlife. The Giants Club meeting was hosted by President Uhuru Kenyatta who was joined by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
“To all poachers, buyers and traders – your days are numbered. We will put you out of business so go on retirement now,” said President Bongo just before participating in the burning of the ivory and horns.
Kenya torched 105 tonnes of ivory and 1.3 tonnes of rhino horns making a statement that the world should stop the trade in wildlife trophies in order to protect its threatened heritage. “Ivory is worthless unless it is on a living elephant” added President Uhuru Kenyatta
African countries are currently fighting to protect their natural heritage, including wildlife, which has traditionally made an important social and economic contribution. Kenya has a thriving tourism industry with over one million tourists visiting its game parks and wildlife sanctuaries, contributing close to 12% of Kenya’s GDP and directly employing more than one million people. Out of an elephant population of 500,000 it is estimated that 25,000 to 30,000 elephants are killed every year.
Through its programme work, UNDP supports efforts to combat the illegal trade in wildlife, both fauna and flora, drawing on an integrated approach. It leverages its expertise, partnerships, and global networks to support countries eradicate poverty, protect the environment, empower women, and build strong institutions, all of which support the rule of law. UNDP work focuses on diversifying rural livelihoods, managing human-wildlife conflict, and sharing the benefits of sustainable wildlife management.
Combating the illegal wildlife trade is central to making progress on the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. The new global platform for development recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions is a global challenge that we must all work hard to achieve, and that maintaining the integrity of the natural ecosystems is critical for global development and poverty reduction.
UNDP also works with various global partners like the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), the World Bank, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Asian Development Bank, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the World Wildlife Fund to enhance conservation and protection of wildlife through financial and technical support.
Editor’s Note: Helen Clark is the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
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SOURCE: United Nations Development Programme