Brussels, 21 December 2012
Environment: Funding to boost INTERPOL fight against wildlife crime
The European Commission is to contribute nearly two million euros to INTERPOL in support of its efforts to combat wildlife crime and protect the world’s natural resources from the illegal international trade in wild flora and fauna. Over the next three years, funding worth EUR 1.73 million will support the world police body’s Project Combat Wildlife Crime under the umbrella of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which also includes the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat, the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank (WB), and the World Customs Organisation (WCO).
Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, said "Few people witness environmental crime, but its effects are global, with developing countries often suffering most of all. Increase in wildlife trafficking is of particular concern, with illegal trade in ivory and rhinoceros horns at their highest levels in a decade, and other endangered species like tiger or some tropical timber also impacted. It's a major cause of biodiversity loss, and this funding will help enforcement and international cooperation to address this worrying phenomenon. It should also build trust with our partners, and show we are serious about fighting biodiversity loss around the globe."
“This support from the European Commission will significantly assist INTERPOL and its partners under the ICCWC to more effectively tackle the theft of natural resources from some of the poorest countries in the world and target the criminals who are making millions in this illicit trade. Results can only be achieved through cooperation, and INTERPOL will continue its work in providing a global law enforcement response to this problem which affects every region of the world,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
Founded in 2010, the ICCWC is a collaborative effort that provides coordinated support to national wildlife law enforcement agencies and sub-regional and regional networks to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and promote better governance for the management of natural resources in developing countries.
Project Combat Wildlife Crime is aimed at ensuring long-term capacity building, improved international information and intelligence exchange, and the coordination of enforcement efforts through the support of government authorities in the wildlife and forestry administration from source, transit and consumer countries. At a broader level, it will also contribute to better governance and the fight against corruption.
Key activities include the analysis of capacity needs supported by the provision of technical and financial assistance to countries where gaps are identified; development and hosting of capacity building programmes including training materials, courses and workshops; and the deployment of Incident Response Teams to undertake targeted enforcement actions in conjunction with developing countries.
As part of its efforts against wildlife crime, the European Commission also decided to provide 2 million euros to prolong the MIKE programme, a unique mechanism that monitors and addresses elephant poaching across the African continent.
The planet’s natural and nature-based assets – from individual species to ecosystems such as forests, coral reefs, freshwaters and soils – are declining at an alarming rate. This biodiversity loss costs billions to the global economy every year, undermining economies; business prospects and opportunities to combat poverty. Current global rates of species extinction are now running at 100 to 1,000 times the natural rate, mainly due to human activities – some of which are illegal.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) restricts and, in some cases, bans the international trade in endangered species and products derived from them. The EU is working to strengthen CITES, which it implements through the Wildlife Trade Regulations. The CITES Convention has 176 parties and regulates international trade in some 30 000 endangered species of wild fauna and flora. CITES Conferences of the Parties (CoP) are held every three years and the next meeting will take place in Bangkok in March 2013.
The CITES programme for Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) has been in operation since 2001 with the full participation of the governments of 43 elephant range States in Africa and Asia, where MIKE monitors levels of elephant poaching in some 85 sites. Over the last five years, the MIKE Programme in Africa has benefitted from a grant of up to €9,814,000 from the 10th European Development Fund. The European Commission is finalising a further grant of 2 million euros to ensure that the programme continues until the end of 2014.
CITES MIKE has documented an alarming increase in levels of illegal killing of elephants across Africa, starting in 2006 and reaching record levels in 2011. The evidence produced has brought worldwide attention to the threats currently faced by elephants, and is fuelling action to address the problem at the national and international levels. MIKE has also been instrumental in improving cooperation between elephant range States and promoted a new level of understanding between them, as demonstrated by the African Elephant Action Plan, developed by range States at the African Elephant Meetings organized under the auspices of the CITES MIKE programme, and unanimously adopted by them on the margins of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (Doha, 2010).
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Information on EU wildlife trade policy is available here: