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‘MEPs for Wildlife’ event on Illegal Wildlife Trafficing (02/03/2016)

On Wednesday 2 March, ahead of World Wildlife Day 2016, the MEP group ‘MEPs for Wildlife’  organized an event in the European Parliament to present the EU Action Plan Against Illegal Wildlife Trade.

The Action plan, that was launched earlier by Environment Commissioner Vella in Brussels on 26 February 2016, sets out three key priorities for the EU: (1) to tackle the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products, (2) to step up the fight against criminal activities in the EU and globally, and (3) to build a global alliance of source, consumer and transit countries.  The complete Action Plan can be downloaded here.

The started with a high-level panel debate and discussion which was chaired by Gerben Jan Gerbrandy (MEP). The panel was made up of Veronique Lorenzo (Head of Unit, DG DEVCO), Dagmar Zikova (ENVI attaché to the Permanent Representation of the Czech Republic to the EU), Mark Jones (Born Free) and Janice W. Singh (Director of European Policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society).

The second half of the event consisted of a reception and speeches by high-level speakers on the EU’s and the UN’s commitment to tackle illegal wildlife trade. An introductory speech was given by Catherine Bearder, MEP and Chair of the MEPs for Wildlife group, after which European Commissioner Karmenu Vella and subsequently UNEP Director of the Division of Environmental Policy  Implementation Mette Wilkie took the floor.

In her speech, Ms. Wilkie affirmed that the EU’s Action Plan aligned perfectly with the UN’s and UNEP’s work and that UNEP was ready to ready to support the EU in achieving its Action Plan.

The event ended with the screening of the National Geographic documentary ‘Warlords of Ivory’ which won the ‘Issues & Solutions’ prize at this year’s International Elephant Film Festival.

UNEP and Illegal Wildlife Trade

The UN and UNEP both recognize the intrinsic value of wildlife and its importance in contributing to the ecological, genetic, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic aspects of sustainable development and human well-being

The focus of this year’s UN World Wildlife Day (WWD 2016) was on the conservation of African and Asian elephants through the subtheme of “The future of elephants is in our hands”. For more information on WWD 2016 click here.

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted its first-ever resolution on wildlife trafficking, in which UNEP, UNODC and UNDP work together closely to implement it. This year, Wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime will also be major themes in the second United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2) which will take place from 23-27 May 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Furthermore, illegal wildlife trade will be the main theme of this year’s World Environment Day. Its global celebration will be hosted by Angola on the 5th of June 2016.

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