Illegal wildlife trade feeds corruption, undermines stability in fragile states and threatens iconic species to the point of extinction. It is a $19 billion business that fuels criminals and terrorists. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary William Hague recognized the need to galvanize the international community to take action on illegal wildlife trade and secure political commitment at the highest levels of government. In February 2014, 42 countries met in London and signed the Declaration on Illegal Wildlife Trade, where they made a collective commitment to end this scourge, help communities that suffer from its side effects and protect endangered species.
The London Declaration secured ambitious political commitments from all 42 Governments, including:
* Support for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) commercial prohibition on international trade in elephant ivory, until the survival of elephants in the wild is no longer threatened by poaching.
* Treating poaching and trafficking as a serious organized crime in the same category as drugs, arms and people trafficking.
* For the first time ever, renouncing the use of any products from species threatened with extinction.
The Conference also solidified national commitments:
* Canada donated $2 million in emergency funding to combat illegal wildlife trade activities in East and Central Africa.
* Germany pledged [euro]16.9 million to support conservation efforts in Cameroon.
* Botswana, Chad, Ethiopia, Gabon and Tanzania launched the Elephant Protection Initiative, which aimed to secure new funding from private and public sources to protect elephants. Participating governments committed to a 10-year moratorium on ivory sales, a ban on domestic ivory trade and a decision to put all ivory stocks beyond economic use.
* The United Kingdom set out a 'Commitment to Action', which included the provision of [pounds sterling]10 million to help governments, non-governmental organizations and charities tackle illegal wildlife crime and deliver London Conference outcomes. This Commitment will be updated in February 2015 to show progress against objectives.
Since the conference, we've seen positive developments at the country level from signatories. In Viet Nam, a key destination for illegal wildlife products, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued a Directive to Ministries, sectors and local authorities to strengthen responses to wildlife crime, increase...