Your Royal Highness,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be with you today to present this very special project.
UNODC’s global programme addressing crimes that affect the environment trains upwards of 2,000 criminal justice professionals a year to prevent and counter wildlife and forest crime, providing comprehensive technical assistance from crime scene to court room.
I am proud to say that we are now expanding our efforts to the classroom, to educate our children and young people on the fight to protect our planet, and all its resources and inhabitants.
Today we are launching a new children’s book “Animals in Danger”, and I would like to begin by thanking Her Royal Highness, who is one of the authors, for joining us at this event.
This book for children ages 8 to 11 puts the spotlight on wildlife crime, climate change and plastic pollution using engaging visuals and practical exercises.
By accompanying a plucky young girl and her new friend, readers learn how together we can effectively take action to prevent and tackle crimes that affect the environment.
“Animals in Danger” was produced with very modest resources, thanks to the contributions of partners like Her Royal Highness, and dedicated colleagues in our Global Programme on Crimes that Affect the Environment and Climate and the UNODC GRACE initiative, under the Global Programme to Prevent and Counter Corruption.
We have a limited print run in English, and the book is also available online in Dutch, English, French, Mongolian, Portuguese and Spanish, with an Arabic version coming soon.
UNODC will work with partner schools to integrate the book into the curriculums to support primary school teachers in bringing young people into the conversation about conservation.
These efforts build on longstanding UNODC initiatives to engage educators and youth in promoting integrity and strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice.
By increasing young people’s participation and contribution to decision-making processes, we can help the rule of law take root in all our societies, and ensure that laws and policies respond to the concerns of youth, their needs and their aspirations for the future.
As we advance towards COP27 in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, the eyes of the world and of younger generations are on concerns about climate and the environment, on what we can do to save and preserve our planet.
We must capitalize on this momentum by engaging the energy, creativity, and enthusiasm of our young people in preventing and stopping wildlife and forest crime; crimes in the fisheries sector; illegal mining; and trafficking in precious metals, as well as in plastics and other waste.
We have no time to lose.
Each year, while countless species are driven closer to extinction, criminals make billions from the sale of protected wildlife products and illegally exploited natural resources.
Not only do these crimes have a devastating impact on biodiversity, they also undermine national and regional political and economic security, weaken the rule of law, and threaten global efforts to responsibly and sustainably manage natural resources.
When seeing natural wonders for the first time, children respond with interest and admiration.
By showing the interconnectedness of nature and the value of teamwork through a fun, engaging storyline and sympathetic characters, this book can help develop this curiosity into respect for the world around us, and a sense of responsibility for preserving the vital ecosystems that sustain all life, on land and under water.
The late Desmond Tutu once said. “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. “
Every child we can inspire and support in doing a little bit of good for the environment around her can help change the world for the better.
We need solutions big and small, and the creativity of today’s children and tomorrow’s leaders holds the key to a life where nature receives the respect and protection it deserves.
Thank you and I hope you enjoy the book.