Director General/Executive Director
Statement at the "Wildlife and Forest Crime - A transnational Organized Crime" Event at the CCPCJ
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to open this meeting on wildlife and forest crime.
I would also like to welcome Mr. Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES, as well as the other participants from Member States and other organizations.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A photograph can capture the beauty and sweep of nature for all time, but it cannot capture its absence.
Today, we face just that: The absence of key species, the absence of vital forestry, the absence of biodiversity on this planet.
As a result, in the early part of the 21 st Century, we are engaged in a dramatic countdown towards extinction for numerous species of fauna and flora.
In this race against extinction, we need to focus on this global threat to our future heritage as a transnational organized crime.
A crime that threatens national and economic security, social and economic development and the livelihoods of people everywhere.
The facts of this serious crime are deeply worrying:
- US$2.5 billion: the total value of the illicit wildlife trade is conservatively estimated in East Asia and the Pacific.
- 3,200: the number of tigers thought to be left in the wild globally.
- 7,500: the estimated number of elephants killed in 2010, mostly in Central Africa, to satisfy demand in Asia. But, this figure is increasing and may be much higher according to some sources.
- US$17 billion: the value of the illegal trade in wood-based products, from and within East Asia and the Pacific.
Unfortunately, these figures will most probably increase, and there is a need for better data collection and data analysis to gain a true picture of the situation.
What we do know with great certainty, however, is that what was once an emerging threat is now one of the most serious transnational organized crime activities.
It ranks alongside trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings.
These crimes are also closely interlinked with money-laundering, corruption, murder and extreme violence.
Insufficient laws, under-resourced and weak capacities in law enforcement and inadequate sanctions are also being exploited by the criminal networks.
To combat these crimes, we need a comprehensive and integrated approach that has as its foundation the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime.
I urge every country to ratify and implement the UNTOC. I also invite Member States to consider making wildlife and forest crimes punishable by sanctions of four years or more, so that the full force of the Convention can be applied against the criminals.
We need measures that can decrease demand, and address problems in the areas of legislation, law enforcement, judicial systems, and data gathering and analysis.
Country's also need to share their experiences and best practices in the detection and prosecution of illicit trafficking.
Work must also be undertaken to track the financial proceeds from these crimes. We must not allow the criminal networks to profit from wildlife and forest crime.
UNODC is also supporting the strengthening of regional networks and has formed partnerships within the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
We have also worked in close association with ICCWC to develop the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit.
The toolkit is aimed at assisting Member States to identify and address specific challenges in the field of wildlife and forest crimes.
Other work also needs to be done to reduce demand. Crucial to this work are the roles of governments civil society, the private sector and the media.
Raising consumer awareness is essential. We need to make the public aware of which species are under protection and make them understand about the contents of certain products.
Individuals, civil society, the media and governments can help spread information about these issues throughout society.
And we must also offer alternatives. Poverty can drive wildlife and forest crime.
For this reason, it is our duty to help build sustainable livelihoods for those involved in this crime.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Wildlife and forest crime is not a national or a regional problem. It is a global problem affecting every country in every region.
This crime demands a global solution that offers international cooperation founded on joint operations, intelligence sharing and strong and compatible national legislations.
We can do nothing less. This is our shared planet; wildlife and forest crime is our shared responsibility.