Secretary-General speech at Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards

Updated on 17 November 2022

 Species Survival Network - CoP19 Side event

Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards

Wednesday 15 November 2022 – 17h15

(Canal 2 – Committee I)



CITES Secretary-General

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to join you at this reception. Today we will recognize the commendable work of enforcement officers and agencies that demonstrated exemplary dedication in the execution of their task, leaving no stone unturned to combat wildlife crime and protect our world’s wildlife. It is wonderful that this event, following past tradition, can take place here in Panama in the margins of the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP19). I take this opportunity to thank the Species Survival Network (SSN) for inviting me to present the 2022 Clark R. Bavin Law Enforcement Awards, again, building upon past tradition.

As you know, despite considerable efforts to combat it, wildlife crime continues to pose a serious challenge globally. This is also shown by the important topics under discussion here at CoP19, several of which relates to CITES-listed species affected by wildlife crime, and the responses we need to deploy to address it.

Addressing wildlife crime has over time become increasingly complex, due to the increased involvement of transnational organized crime groups that target many high value CITES-listed species. These criminals have no regard for the damage they cause to nature, the livelihoods of people and the much-needed development opportunities they rob us from.

It has become essential that Parties treat wildlife crime as a serious crime, deploying all tools available against it. This includes forensic technology, investigations into illicit financial flows, tackling corruption, scaling up responses to address wildlife crime to the Internet and strengthening collaboration thorough mutual legal assistance and otherwise, to mention only a few.

No matter what we do though, having well trained and equipped professional and dedicated officers in the frontlines, is the starting point of winning this fight. People that are brave, act with courage, are committed to their task and do not hesitate to go the extra mile. We can only overcome the challenges posed by wildlife crime if we persist and tackle it with conviction and dedication, never wavering in our efforts. And that is what this event is about, to recognize the efforts of officials that embodies just that.

Every award recipient here with us today should be very proud. Know that your efforts made a difference and have not gone unnoticed. Being in this room and receiving an award means that you have gone beyond the call of duty, and for that we salute you.

I also recognize the fact that there are thousands of wildlife law enforcement officers across the world working passionately each day and that deserve recognition for their efforts. Unfortunately, it will never be possible to have each and every one of them here, but I have no doubt that the recognition of your work will also serve as a further inspiration to them. 

Receiving the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife Law Enforcement Award is a significant achievement. You will now like those that were before you, since the award was launched in 1994, be role models to look up to and that have set an example for others to follow.

My sincere congratulations to every award recipient. We joyfully celebrate your achievements with you, whilst we at the same time are deeply grateful to you in humble admiration.