Yury Fedotov

Director-General/Executive Director

Remarks of the UNODC Executive Director General Assembly high-level thematic discussion on World Wildlife Day

3 March 2017

Your Excellency Mr. Thomson, President of the General Assembly,


Ladies and gentlemen,

The theme of this year's World Wildlife Day, "listen to the young voices", raises the vital question of generational responsibility.

We owe it to our children, and to their children, to promote the healthy and sustainable use of our planet and its resources, and to protect and preserve our shared natural heritage.

If we take this responsibility with the seriousness it deserves, we must take urgent action to stop wildlife and forest crime.

Poaching and illicit trafficking are wreaking economic, social and environmental devastation in every region of the world, and we must do more to eradicate these crimes.

Education is crucial if we want to encourage the positive change in attitudes needed to stop and prevent crime, as well as the corruption that so often enables criminals to act with impunity.

Engaging and empowering young people is essential, and I would like to thank the General Assembly for highlighting this priority on World Wildlife Day 2017.

Since this Assembly proclaimed the 3 rd of March as World Wildlife Day in 2013, we have seen the global response to wildlife crime develop and improve, spurred on by:

  • two path-breaking GA resolutions;
  • the international summits and high-level conferences on illegal wildlife trade;
  • the tireless efforts of my dear colleague John Scanlon and CITES;
  • and the support of the entire UN system.

Many governments have taken steps to shore up national legislation, to close gaps and improve supply chain security.

UNODC assists with these efforts in coordination with our partners in ICCWC, and through our Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, which is ramping up its activities.

I would like to thank our donors for their considerable funding efforts.

Thanks to your support, we are providing technical assistance to new countries, including in West and Central Africa, to help prevent, identify, investigate, prosecute and adjudicate wildlife and forest crime, and to tackle related corruption and money laundering.

UNODC is also part of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Illicit Trade in Wildlife and Forest Products, which will further integrate and leverage UN support, and ensure that we better utilize scarce resources and avoid duplication.

UNODC issued the first World Wildlife Crime Report last year, the fruit of two years of systematic examination. We will continue our research and analysis efforts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is remarkable how far the fight against wildlife crime has advanced in just a few short years.

This progress shows how much the international community can achieve together when there is the commitment and willingness to do it, and should encourage us to do still more. We won't get a second chance.

We need your help to further strengthen criminal justice and preventive responses, including through the tools provided by the UN conventions against transnational organized crime and corruption.

We must address continuing gaps in information, capacities, legislation and regulation.

We must reduce global demand for illegal wildlife products, and promote sustainable livelihoods for affected communities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

I urge all countries to criminalize the possession of wildlife illegally sourced from anywhere in the world.

Penalties should be adequate for a serious crime, and serve as a deterrent.

UNODC remains committed to working with the CITES Secretariat and other partners to step up our support to you.

Thank you.