Global Customs community marks first World Wildlife Day

03 March 2014

Brussels, 3 March 2014

Press Release

The World Customs Organization (WCO) is proud to be joining the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to celebrate the first World Wildlife Day, together with other interested organizations and individuals across the globe.

In recognition of the intrinsic value of wildlife, its huge and varied contribution to sustainable development and human well-being, and the threats that it faces to its survival on a daily basis, World Wildlife Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2013 and will be celebrated on 3 March each year, the day the CITES Convention was adopted.

"World Wildlife Day provides an ideal opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that wildlife provides to people," said CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon. "At the same time it reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts."

"Marking World Wildlife Day enables the WCO to recall the key role played by Customs in combating cross-border wildlife crime," said WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya. "The WCO is committed to protecting the earth’s natural heritage from being decimated by criminals chasing easy profits without regard for the consequences of their illegal actions on people and economies around the world."

"For millennia, people and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine and spiritual sustenance," said UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon in his official message celebrating World Wildlife Day. "Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage."

World Wildlife Day follows closely on the heels of the recent London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade which took place on 13 February 2014, due to the alarming increase in the global wildlife trade that threatens the survival of many species, with some facing the possibility of becoming extinct unless concerted international action is taken, particularly by way of a coordinated enforcement response.

"We need to tackle wildlife crime with a concerted global response as vigorous and forceful as the trade itself, and to act as one global community," said HRH The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William on the occasion of the first World Wildlife Day. "Only this way can we save the extraordinary species, so close to extinction, for future generations."

"Increased action against wildlife crime is now imperative both globally and at the local level," said Secretary General Mikuriya. "Our collective efforts will be bolstered by enhanced cooperation between the WCO and other international and regional law enforcement organizations and a closer working partnership between Customs authorities and other border control agencies."

Already committed to protecting the environment and ensuring the security of endangered wildlife, the global Customs community is ready and willing to play its part in combating illicit trade through cooperation and information-sharing, of particular significance in 2014 which has been designated by the WCO as the Year of Communication with the slogan ‘Sharing information for better cooperation’.

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