At the closing of a high-level conference on illegal trade in wildlife hosted by the United Kingdom (UK) and the British Royal Family, representatives from 46 States endorsed the 'London Declaration,' emphasizing urgent action to end wildlife trafficking and eliminate demand through high-level political commitment and international cooperation.
At the opening of the conference, which was attended by representatives from 46 States and 11 international organizations, William Hague, UK Foreign Secretary, noted that illegal wildlife trade is not just an environmental crisis, but a global criminal industry, ranked alongside drugs, arms and human trafficking. The London Declaration, adopted by acclamation, calls for further measures to eradicate markets for illegal wildlife products, ensure effective legal deterrents, strengthen law enforcement, and support sustainable livelihoods.
During the conference, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishii emphasized that the GEF's four-year funding strategy includes a greatly strengthened program for financing more effective monitoring and enforcement and reduction of consumer demand to stop illegal wildlife trade, which earns, according to the GEF, some $9 billion per year in illicit profit. Speaking on behalf of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Ibrahim Thiaw, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, highlighted that environmental rule of law in relation to the illegal exploitation of wildlife and timber will feature as a key topic during the first-ever UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2014.
The Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John Scanlon, noted the collaborative approach taken by the Convention, focusing on how Parties could collaborate across source, transit and destination States to solve the problems rather than seeking to attribute blame. At the meeting, Botswana announced that it will host a high-level follow-up event in 2015 to discuss progress in tackling the illegal wildlife trade. Together with Chad, Gabon and Tanzania, it also pledged to honor a 10-year moratorium on the sale of ivory.
A day prior to the conference, the US announced that it would ban commercial trade in ivory and released a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.