Tackling wildlife and timber trafficking in Africa with UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme

On November 30th, UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme, in partnership with European Commission (DG INTPA) and African Union Commission organized the briefing on the current challenges of biodiversity loss in Pan-Africa, approaches to address wildlife and timber trafficking by supporting criminal justice system strengthening and how these approaches currently fit within the EU biodiversity agenda. The virtual briefing was attended by over 40 participants from the EU Delegations, Directorates and Services, AU Commission and UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme senior team.
Moderated by Mr. Jorge Rios, Chief of UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme and Chief of Sustainable Livelihoods Unit, the briefing provided room for strategic and practical discussions.
Mr Philippe Mayeux, Team Leader at the European Commission (DG INTPA F2) reconfirmed that wildlife and timber trafficking remains an important political priority for the EU, backed by EU external action support.  
Links of tackling wildlife and timber trafficking can be made to the EU Action Plan on Deforestation and other EU external actions for biodiversity (UNFCCC COP26, ocean governance, NaturAfrica, minimizing risks of deforestation, forest degradation from products placed on EU markets). The importance of international governance and the work with UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme, CITES and other ICCWC partners, as well as other multilateral environmental agreements, was acknowledged as well as the important role NGOs play and the need for all actors to continuing working closer together.  DG INTPA stressed that wildlife and timber trafficking is linked to many issues, including governance, corruption -the impact goes beyond biodiversity and health.  The counter-trafficking efforts are also fundamental to supporting human development and the protection of human rights.
Mr. Harsen Nyambe, Director for Sustainable Environment and Blue Economy at the African Union Commission noted that wildlife is a catalyst of AU development, contributing immensely to the livelihoods. African Union Heads of States are concerned that these resources are subject to unsustainable use and illegality, which is a challenge that needs to be tackled across the continent. Addressing wildlife and timber trafficking contributes to the objectives of the AU Agenda 2063, the Green Recovery Action Plan and the AU Sustainable Forest Management Framework of 2020.  An important political milestone is the adoption of post-2020 biodiversity framework at the CBD next year.
The UNODC Global Wildlife and Forest Crime Programme, joined by the regional leads Mr Javier Montano in charge of East and Southern African work, Mr Cheikh Toure in charge of West and Central Africa work on wildlife and forest crime and Ms Shamini Jayanathan, UNODC Global Prosecution Advisor, delivered expert presentations the programmes currently supported by the EU on the value and impact of strengthening criminal justice systems through the “crime scene to court” approach, corruption prevention work with wildlife and forestry authorities, building evidence based response by addressing the gaps in understanding the many entry points vulnerable to trafficking in particular by undertaking the ICCWC Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit and complementary Indicator Framework Tools (completed and ongoing in 11 countries in Africa). The expert presentations were complemented by the powerful testimonies from criminal justice practitioners working with UNODC Global Programme across Africa.
Ms. Olga Kuzmianok leading on environmental crime, biodiversity and climate change at UNODC Brussels Liaison Office, reiterated that, following the Briefing, in-depth discussions will continue with the EU Delegations bilaterally.