25 July 2012 - The International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), of which UNODC is a member, has launched its Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit and announced that it has secured $600,000 for the current fiscal year through the World Bank Development Grant Facility (DGF) to strengthen national enforcement capacities to fight wildlife crime.
Every day, wild plants and animals are being illegally logged, harvested or hunted in the richest biodiversity areas of the planet to satisfy lucrative illegal domestic and international markets, often controlled by criminal syndicates. Trafficking, supplying, possessing and consuming wild fauna and flora obtained in contravention of national and international laws are happening at a scale that poses an immediate risk to species and ecosystems, as well as to the people who rely upon them for their livelihoods.
The economic, social and environmental impact of illicit trafficking in wildlife was also recognized in the Rio+20 outcome document 'The Future We Want' agreed by more than 100 Heads of State on 22 June 2012.
Yet wildlife crime remains poorly studied in comparison to other areas of illicit trade, such as the illicit trade in drugs, which is the subject of the World Drug Report issued by UNODC and the annual Customs and Drugs Report issued by the World Customs Organization (WCO).
The ICCWC has not tried to place a value on the scale of illegal wildlife trade, but it notes that others have realistically estimated it at anything between $16 and $27 billion a year, including timber and marine species.
Some of the most lucrative illegal wildlife commodities include tiger parts, elephant ivory, rhino horn, and exotic birds and reptiles, while the recent World Bank study on Justice for Forests recognizes that illegal trade in timber deprives States of over $10 billion in annual revenue.
In collaboration with its ICCWC partners, UNODC commissioned the development of the Toolkit, the use of which will provide Government officials, customs, police and other relevant enforcement agencies with a framework to analyze, prevent, detect and combat wildlife and forest offences.
The Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit will be tested in partnership with selected national Governments, and the DGF funds secured through the World Bank - an ICCWC partner - will significantly contribute to this process.
The World Bank provides DGF resources in an annual process out of the net income derived from its international lending operations to support innovation in development strategies and approaches - this year, the Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved grants totalling $56.2 million, including the grant to the ICCWC.
The DGF program is planned to be implemented over three years, with additional funding to be requested from the DGF for the coming two years, enabling national enforcement capacities to fight wildlife crime to be strengthened in an ongoing, sustainable manner.
CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon said, "We are scaling up our collective enforcement effort in recognition of the serious risks that wildlife crime poses to people and to nature. In particular, we are providing a more formidable and better coordinated enforcement response at the global level and offering enhanced support to regional and national enforcement bodies. We are making better use of modern enforcement techniques and technologies, attracting additional financial and human resources, and striving to suppress more effectively the demand that is driving illegal trade."
UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov added, "Wildlife crime and trafficking in timber are two major illicit enterprises for organized crime groups. These activities cause irreparable damage to our forests and place endangered species at further risk of extinction. They also fuel widespread corruption, money laundering, fraud and violence, and impact on sustainable livelihoods. I am sure that this Toolkit will be invaluable as we work alongside our partners in the ICCWC, to boost law enforcement training, strengthen the judiciary and prosecution, and promote international cooperation."
Meanwhile the World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte noted, "As the world's largest donor to environment and natural resource law enforcement, we welcome the ICCWC Toolkit. The Toolkit provides new and innovative ideas to countries, to enable them to better combat environmental crime. The World Bank is providing $300 million to developing countries for projects ranging from wildlife crime prevention through to deployment of anti-money laundering regimes and beyond."
World Customs Organization Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya said, "The global Customs community is committed to working in a coordinated manner with its ICCWC partners to stop criminals trading in environment-sensitive goods, including wildlife which remains under sustained attack in many areas of the world. This new Toolkit joins the 'arsenal of weapons' already developed by both the WCO and other international organizations to build the capacity and enhance the ability of Customs and law enforcement officials to effectively fight cross-border environment crimes."