G7 commits to tackling wildlife crime

Posted on 09 June 2015

Moving from just an environmental issue to agenda of G7 leaders
By Richard Lee, Wildlife Crime Initiative

It’s amazing to think that just a few years ago, wildlife crime and the large-scale trafficking of ivory, rhino horn, tiger bones and many other illegal wildlife products were viewed as just ‘environmental’ issues.
Certainly not as something to concern Heads of State. Let alone the Heads of the State of the G7 – who had far weightier things on their minds and agendas.
But no longer. Wildlife crime is finally getting the attention it deserves.
At the conclusion of their latest G7 summit, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA committed to “combating wildlife trafficking, which is pushing some of the world’s species to the brink of extinction and in some instances is being used to finance organized crime, insurgencies, and terrorism."
It is a major boost to global efforts to tackle the current poaching crisis and unprecedented surge in illegal wildlife trade, which not only threaten numerous species and national security but also sustainable development, good governance and the rule of law.
The G7 commitment follows hot on the heels of China’s decision to eventually phase out its domestic ivory market. And the Brazzaville summit on illegal wildlife trade in Africa.
And shortly after the UN Crime Congress in Doha, where countries agreed to boost their efforts to counter transnational organized environmental crimes by ‘strengthening legislation, international cooperation, capacity-building, criminal justice responses and law enforcement efforts’.
After the landmark London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade in February 2014, concerns were raised that the international community might lose interest in wildlife crime once the spotlight moved elsewhere. But the opposite is true.
Momentum is continuing to build. Next up is the African Union summit in South Africa when Heads of State are expected to adopt a continental strategy to tackle illegal wildlife trade. And soon after that, the UN General Assembly is likely to vote on a resolution on wildlife crime – highlighting once and for all that this is now regarded around the world as far more than just an ‘environmental’ issue.
Ivory trafficking increasingly involves international organized crime
© © WWF / Folke Wulf
A rhino horn and tiger teeth for sale on the table of a black market animal trade dealer at his home in Hanoi, Vietnam. Vietnam is the world’s largest recipient of illegal rhino horn from South Africa.
© Robert Patterson / WWF