2023 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards: Remarks by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

Updated on 05 December 2023


2023 Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards

Remarks by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

28 November 2023, Bangkok, Thailand


Distinguished Award Winners, dear colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my utmost pleasure to have the opportunity to address you at this year’s Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards.

First and foremost, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of this wonderful award ceremony. Thank you also to our partners in these awards, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Secretariat of the Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Waste and their Disposal or Basel Convention, the INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization. I sincerely regret I cannot be with you there in person in Bangkok.

This is the eighth awarding of the AEEA which publicly recognizes and celebrates excellence in enforcement by government officials, institutions, or teams combating transboundary environmental crime.

Tackling wildlife crime is an important part of combating environmental crime. Wildlife crime is now widely recognized as a serious transnational organized crime that threatens the survival of some of the world’s most iconic and precious species, as well as many lesser-known species. Wildlife crime undermines the rule of law, decimates livelihoods, has serious negative environmental consequences and directly impacts the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Illegal trade in wildlife also undermines the legal and sustainable trade in endangered wildlife products, for which the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES as most of you will know it, was set up to do in 1973, a half a century ago!  CITES regulates international trade in over 40,000 species of plants and animals and is one of the earliest among the Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Combating wildlife crime is a difficult task as it stretches across borders and continents, affecting countries around the globe. Yet no country, region or agency can fight this crime in isolation. Only in our collective resolve will we be able to defeat crime of this nature, which requires collaboration and coordination amongst law enforcement agencies across the entire criminal justice system, both within and across borders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is this effort of collaboration and coordination that we will be celebrating and honouring during this inspiring award ceremony. 

This award recognizes exceptional achievement within the categories of impact, collaboration, innovation, gender leadership and women’s empowerment, and Africa-Asia collaboration. This includes work to combat the illegal wildlife trade.

Today marks a celebration of our colleagues who have demonstrated outstanding expertise in their respective fields. I urge you to join us in sharing their stories so that we can create a collective effort to combat transboundary environmental crime around the world.

Congratulations to each one of you who are receiving well deserved awards. I hope you are proud of your incredible achievements and successes that have earned you this recognition. Your commitment is both commendable and inspiring to us all in the fight against transboundary environmental crime. And for the CITES community, your work also motivates others to lead the way to combatting wildlife crime.

We are grateful for your service, commitment, and sacrifices. Please enjoy this award and enjoy the celebrations!

Thank you.