Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Executive Director of Conservation Policy, spoke today at the special civil society session of the United Nation’s Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals:

“The Rio+20 ‘The Future We Want’ outcome document, in para. 203, recognizes the economic, social and environmental impacts of trafficking in wildlife, and the importance of effective international cooperation among relevant international organizations. The SDGs can now help turn that into reality.

I therefore speak today to urge States to include text in the SDGs that addresses poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

To quote the UN Deputy Secretary-General, ‘Illegal trade in wildlife and endangered species is a threat to all three pillars of the UN—human rights, peace and security and human development.’ The illegal wildlife trade is the fourth largest illegal trade globally, totaling some $19 billion a year.

Poaching and illegal wildlife trade are serious crimes, driven by demand, facilitated by corruption, and linked to organized crime and militias in many countries. This trade poses a threat to species, ecosystems, and the well-being of local communities, sustainable development, livelihoods, and poverty elimination.

There is particular attention today on the killing of elephants for the ivory trade. The population of African forest elephants has declined by more than 62% since 2002, and it is estimated that 96 elephants are poached every day for this illegal trade.

In conclusion, we urge you to ensure that the SDGs recognize the clear link between wildlife trafficking and organized crime, peace and security, and to include a clear target to eliminate poaching and illegal trade.”
STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)