The Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade
On 17-18 November, the world looked at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade to take urgent steps in the fight against wildlife crime. This was a follow-up to the Wildlife Conference held in The Hague from 1-3 March 2016. Find here the statement on behalf of The Netherlands, delivered by the Dutch Ambassador in Vietnam, Ms. Nienke Trooster.
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My government would like to thank the Government of Viet Nam for taking the bold step to host this conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade here in Hanoi.
Today we are talking about the protection of wildlife, and our hope for future generations to enjoy rhinos, elephants, tigers, birds, pangolins, reptiles and all other great creatures in our world.
Criminals are having rhinos killed because people think that powder made from their horns will protect them from disease and other dangers, tens of thousands of elephants are shot for their tusks and tons of Pangolin meat is consumed just because it is considered a delicacy.
There is no time to lose in tackling this problem, which involves not only stopping poaching, but also reducing demand. The scope and urgency of this problem requires close international cooperation. The European Commission’s Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking has an important role to play as was mentioned earlier. We are happy that during the Dutch EU Presidency, strong European Council conclusions were adopted to support this plan.
The Netherlands government is committed to support any efforts in tackling wildlife crime, a subject that attracts a widespread attention in our parliament and among the Dutch public. We are funding several projects, mainly in Africa, and also contribute to the activities of Europol, Eurojust and Interpol. The Netherlands actively participated in the London Conference in 2014 and the Kasane Conference in Botswana in 2015.
In March of this year, The Netherlands organised an international conference in The Hague, titled ‘Save Wildlife: Act Now or Game Over’. One of the results of this conference was a series of ‘‘Wildlife Deals”, detailed action plans drawn up by stakeholders in different combinations, through which governmental organisations, research institutes, businesses and NGO’s work together to achieve specific goals. Examples are the reintroduction of the black Rhino in Rwanda and a wildlife based sustainable tourism project in Kenia and Tanzania.
And there are many goals to be achieved. In criminal investigation it is essential that efforts focus on the whole chain: every link we can remove from that chain counts, is essential to the final success. The Wildlife Justice Commission in The Hague, set up by the WWF last year, helps authorities to build legal cases.
At the same time we must work to eliminate the markets, the demand. Having the conference here in Vietnam - a country that is both a market and a transit point for these products - is therefore so meaningful. Vietnam has an important role to play in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Efforts are being made to reduce demand, but as elsewhere more can be done.
The outcome of a public hearing on wildlife crime in Vietnam, which was organized by the Wildlife Justice Commission in the Peace Palace in The Hague, is in line with the outcome of the CITES conference in Johannesburg.
Vietnam has indeed committed itself by hosting this conference to upscale its efforts. Commitments have been made to CITES to solve the ivory trade issues and to upscale the cooperation with South Asia and China. Everything is in place for Vietnam to make serious progress in the fight against wildlife crime and become an example and inspiration for all working on our shared agenda. Continued implementation is now the key.
We very much want to be part of this endeavour. Our two strategic partnerships with Vietnam on agriculture and water put sustainability at the centre of our common agenda. Preserving wildlife is of course part of this agenda.
But also on the level of NGO’s and knowledge institutions, existing initiatives with a focus on preservation of landscapes, biodiversity and wildlife protection can be used to strengthen the common wildlife agenda. NGOs and knowledge institutes have valuable knowledge and expertise that can and should be called upon. To name an interesting example, the Netherlands Forensic Institute develops courses on the use of DNA techniques in order to trace and prosecute perpetrators.
However applying techniques is one thing, changing mind sets is even more important. Making us all aware that the illegal wildlife trade in the long run undermines a sustainable inclusive development. Involving all stakeholders, including local communities, civil society is a must.
For us this conference creates an opportunity to stress our commitment to work with our international partners, in Africa, in Asia, in Vietnam, with governmental and non-governmental partners to end illegal wildlife trade. We are open to learn and explore how we can improve so that next time we meet in similar settings, we can proudly announce the successes that we have achieved together.