Welcome to today’s High Level Panel Discussion.
On behalf of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and our partners in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime - the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization and the World Bank, I thank you for joining us to examine the impacts of wildlife trafficking, and the role of the EU Green Deal in supporting the fight against wildlife crime.
Our planet has lost over 60% of its wildlife in the past 50 years.
Wildlife crime has contributed to this loss by driving species towards extinction, destroying forest and marine habitats, and disrupting ecosystems.
Wildlife crime affects our planet, but also its people, by robbing communities of natural resources, increasing the risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases, fuelling insecurity, and powering illicit economies.
The COVID pandemic has put even more economic pressure on the most vulnerable, compounding the risks of involvement in the illegal wildlife trade.
Now more than ever, we need to address wildlife crime as a serious form of organized crime, by making use of the international instruments at our disposal, and harmonizing legislation across regions to prevent traffickers from exploiting gaps.
To help Member States strengthen their prevention and criminal justice responses, UNODC has supported 40 countries with legislative assistance, building enforcement capacity, and facilitating international and inter-agency cooperation to dismantle criminal networks and disrupt trafficking.
I am grateful to the European Commission for its steadfast support of our work, and I congratulate the European Union on its ambitious Green Deal and 2030 Biodiversity Strategy.
I look forward to our continued collaboration in line with these frameworks. I hope that today’s event will help ensure that criminal justice is fully integrated into our collective efforts to address wildlife crime threats to nature, development, and security.