The signing of a new declaration at Buckingham Palace yesterday committing the leaders of the global transportation industry to major steps to fight criminal wildlife trafficking has been hailed by the Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the UK throne, as “a game changer in the race against extinction”.
40 CEOs, chairmen, and other leaders of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities from around the world have become the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products. The Buckingham Palace Declaration is the result of a year’s worth of meetings, research, and coalition building by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, convened by the Duke of Cambridge.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration commits signatories to eleven commitments that will raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to covertly move their products from killing field to marketplace. The commitments focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide. They will also see the world’s leading transportation firms assisting those in poorer nations who are in need of expertise and new systems.
The work of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce has been strongly supported not only by the transport sector but a number of intergovernmental agencies including the World Customs Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and importantly the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) – the world’s regulatory instrument on trade in endangered species.
The Duke of Cambridge said: “If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday. The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.
“But this crisis can be stopped. We know where the animals are that we need to protect. We know where the markets for wildlife products are and where awareness, education, and law enforcement need to be improved. And with the Buckingham Palace Declaration being signed today, global transport leaders are saying we know many of the ways wildlife products are being moved from killing field to market place.
“By implementing these commitments the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction. I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis.”
China Cosco Shipping, Maersk, BIMCO, Intercargo, Hamburg Sud, the Danish, Liberian and Japanese shipowners’ associations, the International and UK chambers of shipping, Stena, Stolt-Nielsen and the Sustainable Shipping Initiative were among the signatories.