At the international political level, IWT has received enormous attention in recent years. Over 18 declarations and pledges have been made in high-level political summits that included the African Elephant Summit in Botswana in 2013, the London IWT Conference in 2014, the Kasane Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade 2015, and the Hanoi Conference on IWT in 2016. The international political pressure continued as global leaders gathered at the 2018 London Conference on IWT.
At the national and regional levels, commitments, declarations, and pledges guided the development of strategies and action plans, including the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking (2014), the European Commission’s Strategic Approach to Conservation in Africa (2015), and the African Strategy on Combating Illegal Exploitation and Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora in Africa (2015). Still, much more needs to be done.
Fortunately, countries are now taking major steps to stem the crisis, launching targeted and integrated solutions. Indeed, the GEF-funded Global Wildlife Program (GWP) recently released the first-ever review of international donor funding for combatting IWT in Africa and Asia, which shows that over $1.3 billion (ca. $190 million per year) was committed by 24 international donors between 2010 and June 2016, funding 1,105 projects in 60 different countries and various regional and global projects*****.
The GEF-funded GWP is a global partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development. Overall, the GWP includes 37 national projects across 32 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Phase I of the program was launched in 2015 seeking to combat IWT across 19 countries in Asia and Africa and supporting on-the-ground actions with a platform for knowledge exchange and coordination. The program carries out activities in 13 African counties (Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and in 6 Asian countries (Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam). In this phase, the GEF invested $131 million and leveraged $704 million. The program combats poaching, trafficking and demand for wildlife and wildlife products illegally traded between Africa and Asia. It is a comprehensive effort to protect threatened species and their habitats, with a suite of investments to address the problems and to look for short and long-term solutions in the source, transit, and demand countries. Activities in the source countries include: enhancing anti-poaching tracking and intelligence operations; increasing the size of conservation areas and improving their management; integrated land-use planning; strengthening enforcement; and providing opportunities for development through nature-based tourism and other agrobiodiversity, forestry, and natural resource projects that benefit local communities. In transit states, the program supports law enforcement capacity, using DNA markers, tracking known shipments of illegal wildlife products to identify the source of wildlife, and strengthening efforts against corruption at all levels. Activities in the demand countries include targeted awareness-raising among consumers across the world, increasing legal deterrents for purchase, and changing behavior of the general public.
Phase II of the program was launched in 2019, aiming at continuing fighting IWT in source, transit and demand countries and using wildlife as the cornerstone for sustainable development. This program will operate in 16 countries; 7 in Africa (Angola, Chad, DRC, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa), 6 in Asia (Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan) and 3 in Latin America and the Caribbean (Belize, Ecuador and Panama). The program will also include a global child project for the coordination and knowledge management that will focus on Preventing the Extinction of Known Threatened Species, and Wildlife for Sustainable Development. The GEF is investing an additional $82 million and leveraging $483 million in co-financing. Co-financing is provided from a wide range of partners, including the governments of participating countries, GEF Agencies, bilateral and multilateral donors, foundations, the private sector, and civil society.