Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted an event titled “Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation: A Call to Action” at the U.S. Department of State on November 8, 2012. The event brought together foreign ambassadors and leaders from international organizations, nongovernmental conservation organizations and the private sector to energize and strengthen the global commitment to combat the illegal trade in wildlife and promote conservation by placing it squarely on the foreign policy and security agenda.
Wildlife trafficking continues to threaten protected and endangered species, on land and sea, pushing some to the brink of extinction. The illegal trade in wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn, and turtle shell is estimated to total between $7-10 billion annually. Wildlife trafficking threatens security and the rule of law, undermines conservation efforts, robs local communities of their economic base, and contributes to the emergence and spread of disease.
Secretary Clinton, Under Secretary Robert Hormats, Under Secretary Maria Otero, and Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine were joined by Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Donald Steinberg and senior officials from the Departments of Interior and Justice and the Smithsonian Institution, among other U.S. Government agencies.
Kenyan Ambassador to the United States Mr. Elkanah Odembo and Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Dino Patti Djalal also spoke, outlining the critical situations their countries currently face from the violence of wildlife trafficking. Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani of Botswana provided a video-taped message, and participants were also treated to a screening of several public service announcements developed by WildAid, IFAW, and CITES, in conjunction with others.
In her remarks, the Secretary identified a four-part strategy for addressing the global problem of wildlife trafficking. First, the United States is working with leaders from around the world to develop a global consensus on wildlife protection. Second, the Department of State is spearheading a global outreach campaign on wildlife trafficking, to launch December 4th on Wildlife Conservation Day. Third, Secretary Clinton called for a global system of regional wildlife enforcement networks, pledging $100,000 and building on the more than $24 million that USAID has already committed to the effort over the past five years to combat wildlife trade. Finally, Secretary Clinton asked the intelligence community to produce an assessment of the impact of large-scale wildlife trafficking on our security interests. Please click here for a full transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the event earlier today.
In his remarks, USAID Deputy Administrator Steinberg made three new program announcements. First, USAID will enter into a partnership with IUCN and TRAFFIC titled Wildlife Trafficking Response, Assessment, and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) with a focus on trans-regional trafficking. Second, USAID will join the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), a World-Bank-led trilateral partnership with over 100 public, private, and civil society partners. Finally, USAID will develop a Technology Challenge on Wildlife Trafficking, engaging the best and brightest scientists and entrepreneurs to use technological solutions to combat wildlife trafficking.