Angola – World Environment Day 2016
Message from John E Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General
5 June 2016
His Excellency José Eduardo dos Santos,President of the Republic of Angola
Honourable Maria de Fátima Jardim, Minister for Environment
Honourable Pedro Mutindi,Governor of the Province of Kuando Kubango
Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, SADC Executive Secretary
Mr Achim Steiner UNEP Executive Director
Distinguished Guests, ladies and gentlemen
All protocols observed
Thank you very much for the opportunity to address you on this very special observance of World Environment Day, which this year is themed around illegal wildlife trade, with Angola as the host country.
Illicit wildlife trafficking is driving some of the world’s most iconic animals and plants towards extinction, as well as some species many people may never have heard of.
It is also threatening our own personal well-being, the livelihoods of local communities living amongst wildlife and, in some cases, even national economies and security.
Fortunately, the international community has woken up to these serious threats and today there is a global collective effort underway to end wildlife trafficking, as can be seen in the resolutions adopted by the UN Crime Commission and ECOSOC (2013), CITES (in 2013), the UN Environment Assembly (in 2014), and the UN General Assembly (in 2015).
Today, across every continent, governments, organizations and citizens are tackling both demand and supply, looking out for contraband in transit, and working to support local communities – and this global collective effort is making wildlife crime much riskier and far less profitable.
As a result, while the overall levels of poaching and smuggling remain far too high, we are encouraged to see positive progress in many countries and with some wildlife populations, including in Angola.
While we are clearly not there yet, we are beginning to turn the tide on wildlife trafficking – and the days of wildlife crime being high profit and low risk are over, as countries increasingly heed the call from the UN and CITES to treat wildlife crimes as serious crimes.
And I would like to take a few moments on this special day to focus on the inspiring efforts that are under way in Angola – the generous host country for World Environment Day this year – to support its stunning wildlife, as well as its people.
We were delighted to welcome Angola as the 179th Party to CITES on 31 December 2013. Since that time Angola has been working closely with the CITES Secretariat and our many partners to put in place the necessary authorities, laws and policies to effectively implement the Convention and to enhance its enforcement capacity.
At the request of the CITES Standing Committee Angola has prepared and is now implementing its National Ivory Action Plan, which includes finalizing its ivory stockpile inventory with the support of Stop Ivory and Ernst & Young. Angola is also developing new legislation to effectively implement CITES with the support of the CITES Secretariat and UNEP, and it will soon comprehensively assess how it addresses wildlife crime through deploying the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit, with the support of UNODC, one of the five Consortium partners.
As you can see from this brief snapshot, much work is underway and Angola has a wonderful opportunity to play a leading role in wildlife conservation and to gain increasing global appreciation of its vast wildlife assets. It is still early days but we are on the right path and we will continue to support Angola in achieving its conservation objectives, which will bring benefits to both wildlife and people.
It has been a big year for Africa and wildlife conservation with CITES and the Jackson Hole Film Festival hosting the first ever International Elephant Film Festival on World Wildlife Day that highlighted the African elephant, including in Angola; with the just completed UN Environment Assembly in Kenya where the UN public outreach campaign on illegal wildlife trade was launched; and with today’s observance of World Environment Day in Angola.
All of these events have helped set the stage for the World Wildlife Conference – or CITES CoP17 to be held in September of this year. This is when the global community will come together in Johannesburg, South Africa to decide on the rules that govern wildlife trade – both to regulate legal and sustainable trade and tackle illicit trade, at what is shaping up to be one of the most critical meetings in the 43-year history of the Convention – and we very much look forward to Angola’s active participation in CoP17.
Finally, while I am many 1,000s of kilometers away, I join with His Excellency the President and the Government and people of Angola in observing this very special World Environment Day – and our Chief of Enforcement Support, Ben Janse van Rensburg looks forward to joining you in person in just a few weeks’ time to work with Angolan authorities in strengthening CITES implementation and enforcement.
I thank you - and ‘Let’s Go Wild for Life!’