Bangkok (Thailand), 5 May 2022 - Over 20 experts from government departments, law enforcement agencies, the private sector and international and national organizations met to discuss regulations related to biosafety of facilities handling wildlife in Thailand. During this first workshop of the Safety for the Global Environment (SAFE) project in Thailand, participants discussed best practices and roles and responsibilities to address wildlife crime and prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.
In his opening remarks, Jeremy Douglas, Regional Representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), highlighted that “the prevention of pandemics requires a collective effort, with different agencies and partners moving forward in the same direction”. Through a One Health approach and thanks to their expertise combining law enforcement, public health and biosafety, participants discussed existing legal frameworks and risks in Thailand. Dr. Giuseppe Busini, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation in Thailand, recognized that “the challenges that the SAFE project will deal with are equally important for Thailand and the European Union.”
Considering the emergence of zoonotic diseases, participants highlighted the importance of improving the management of natural resources and creating a dialogue between sectors. “I am pleased to be part of this programme that will combine the efforts of the private and public sectors to promote global health security, and to prevent new emerging diseases”, remarked Dr. Prasert Sornsathapornkul, Director of the Division of Wild Fauna and Flora Protection of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand.
One of the key objectives of the SAFE project is to elaborate a risk assessment framework to be conducted in a sample of wildlife-managing facilities in the country. Experts from the Royal Thai Police, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand among others will determine ways to collect data from facilities handling wild animals. Given the multi-sectoral nature of the project, the UNODC Environmental Crime Team is also partnering with the United Nations Environment Programme Law Division, and with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases.
Field surveys will now be conducted at wildlife facilities in the country, and plans to prevent illegal activities and eventually new pandemics will be discussed and agreed.