Illegal Trade: Does Kasane signal the end of the beginning?

On March 25th, representatives of over 30 countries met at the Kasane Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, and adopted the Kasane Statement to reaffirm their commitment to ending the illegal wildlife trade. The conference was organised by the Government of Botswana with the support of the UK government, and included measures to ‘eradicate the market for illegal wildlife products, ensure legal frameworks and deterrents are in place, strengthen law enforcement, and engage communities in efforts to address illegal wildlife trade.’ The statement put forward a road map, or at least the framework of one, which will see the 30 nations present at the conference moving forward with a common goal.

To paraphrase, the statement also set out that sustainable livelihoods and economic development play a key role in countering the illegal wildlife trade, and that engaging with community groups and local peoples is vital in the effective monitoring of wildlife, as well as law enforcement. They intend to promote the benefits from wildlife resources, whilst balancing the needs of communities with the need to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. This will also be done within the context of building conservation constituencies and promoting sustainable development, and the nations have agreed to target local populations, especially within rural communities, in order for them to develop knowledge, expertise, and best practice of managing wildlife resources. They also seek to assist local communities to identify situations where the illegal wildlife trade can be reduced, and thus provide the support and legal framework that will allow these communities to resolve the issues themselves.

The statement also called on the UN to address the issue of illegal wildlife trade at their next session. China and Vietnam, two of the biggest markets for the illegal trade, were present and were in agreement with the statement.

The Kasane Statement can be found in full here. This is the full list of participants:

Republic of Angola

Commonwealth of Australia

Republic of Austria People’s

Republic of Bangladesh

Kingdom of Belgium

Republic of Botswana

Republic of Cameroon

Canada People’s

Republic of China

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

French Republic

Gabonese Republic

Federal Republic of Germany

Republic of Indonesia

Japan

Republic of Kenya

Republic of Malawi

Republic of Mozambique

Republic of Namibia

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Russian Federation

Republic of South Africa

Switzerland

United Republic of Tanzania

United Arab Emirates

Republic of Uganda

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

United States of America

Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Republic of Zambia

Republic of Zimbabwe

European Union

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