A global problem demands a global response: 24 chapters of the Jane Goodall Institute are uniting to end wildlife trafficking – by Jane Goodall Institute Australia (JGIA) Board Director, Zara Bending
As part of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI)’s global ForeverWild campaign, chapters around the world are writing to their Heads of State and other influential decision-makers to garner support for a world-first, global agreement on wildlife crime. JGI Global is an International Champion of the Global Initiative to End Wildlife Crime which supports the specific call to address the illicit trafficking of wildlife in a Fourth Protocol to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC).
The proposed Protocol would position wildlife trafficking within the scope of international criminal law and provide a framework for member state obligations. This would include adopting legislation, criminalising the intentional illicit trafficking of specimens of wild fauna and flora (in any whole or part, whether living or deceased), increasing coordination and exchanging intelligence regarding known organized groups and techniques of concealment, sharing forensic samples, strengthening border and authenticity controls, as well as implementing strategies to reduce demand. If adopted, the Protocol would be the fourth to UNTOC – the others concerning human trafficking, migrant smuggling, plus illegal manufacturing and trafficking in firearms.
Thankfully, there is increasing international momentum towards this reform that promises transformative change. In April this year, the European Union communicated its support on page 16 of its Strategy to Tackle Organised Crime 2021-2025. In May, President Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica and President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon united in their calls to ‘end the scourge of wildlife trafficking’ through a joint statement advocating for the Fourth Protocol. Their Excellencies were joined in September by President João Lourenço of Angola. More broadly, in July, the UN General Assembly adopted a comprehensive Resolution on Tackling Illicit Wildlife Trafficking by consensus – the fifth in its series of resolutions on the issue following 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. This latest resolution specifically “invites parties to the UNTOC to more effectively use the Convention to address illicit trafficking in wildlife, and to continue discussions on other possible international tools to combat wildlife trafficking.”
Wildlife crime not only challenges the rule of law but undermines human and ecosystem health, national security, economic prosperity, and livelihoods. The World Bank values the impacts of illegal logging, fishing, and wildlife trade at USD 1-2 trillion annually, including loss of financial, natural, social, and political capital. Wildlife trafficking inflicts unspeakable cruelty on millions of animals each year and contributes substantially to the crisis of biodiversity loss, which continues to accelerate the pace of climate change globally.
Wildlife trafficking also increases the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, with the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) estimating some 1.7 million undiscovered viruses thought to exist in wild animals, of which approximately half could spill over to humans. As a network of chapters working together and inspired by the work of Dr. Jane Goodall DBE, we understand that the greatest crises facing our planet are interconnected: no one country can fight wildlife crime alone.
To find out more about the proposed protocol, available in several languages, read on at End Wildlife Crime (endwildlifecrime.org) and be sure to listen to Jane’s Hopecast episode with EWC Chair, John Scanlon on the JGIA blog here.