28-30 August 2018
Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand

Introduction

On 25th September 2015, through Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the member states adopted the United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlighting the global needs to address global problems related to environment and development.  The 17 Goals and 169 Targets signify the universal call for action oriented towards people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships.

The SDG 15 reflects the pledge to protect biodiversity, ecosystems and wildlife; and encompasses targets to end poaching and trafficking of protected species and strengthen relevant national institutions in developing countries to combat crime.

15.7 Take urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products.

15.c Enhance global support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species, including by increasing the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Several studies have underscored the importance of concerted efforts from the wildlife conservation and enforcement communities through appropriate strategies, tools and technologies, and approaches to effectively stem the tide of wildlife crime. The SDG 16 calls for commitment in promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all. Considering the link between organised crime, arms and illicit financial flows, UN in its SDG 16 has called for combating all forms of organized crime.

In addition, SDG 17 also calls for efforts in unison through enhanced cooperation (North-South, South-South and Triangular) on science, technology and innovation to enhance knowledge sharing at the United Nations level, and through a global technology facilitation mechanism.

One year after the adoption of the SDG’s; in October 2016 and its Conference of the Parties, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) introduced a new reporting mechanism, requesting member states to submit an annual illegal trade report by the 31st October of each year. Further, in September 2017, at its 71st session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution encouraging member states to enhance their enforcement efforts, including strengthening the collection of information on patterns and flows of illicit trafficking in wildlife and to report thereon biennially. The Resolution also requests the Secretary-General of the UN to report to the General Assembly at its seventy-third session on the global status of illicit trafficking in wildlife, including poaching and illegal trade, and to make proposals for possible future action.

Though there is good commitment and encouragement at the international level to address the information gaps in tackling wildlife crime, there remain several technical, governance, and infrastructural challenges at the regional and national levels in compiling information critical to undermine the determinants of organized crime and threats to peace and security in the society. This was very well highlighted in one of the United Nations University reports, Bytes Beyond Borders, which mentions that: “the UN system is experiencing the odd circumstance of asking governments from developing countries to control poaching while simultaneously being unable to offer necessary resources (scientific, technological, and financial) for them to bring it under control.” Similar observations were made during the Tokyo Conference on Combatting Wildlife Crime held in Japan in 2014 and; the United Nations/Kenya Conference on Space Technology and Applications for Wildlife Management and Protecting Biodiversity held in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016.

Hence, to address poaching and illegal trade and to meet the targets of the SDGs, it is important for all stakeholders concerned (UN, Academia, NGO’s, and Private sector) to support affected nations through new technological, infrastructural, financial, and governance measures to enhance their information collection, compilation, and analysis process that underpins progress towards improving people’s lives in fundamental ways.