WCO calls for digital innovation in wildlife conservation

01 March 2024

On 3 March, the World Customs Organization (WCO) stands with the global community to observe World Wildlife Day (WWD), advocating for a renewed commitment to sustainable natural resource utilization and urging a collective reevaluation of our environmental footprint.

Recognizing the key role that Customs plays in regulating wildlife trade and preserving biodiversity, the WCO reaffirms its unwavering support for WWD, this year themed, “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.” This theme resonates with the WCO's focus on digital transformation to improve Customs efficiency, enhance enforcement, and facilitate legitimate trade in today’s globally connected landscape.

The WCO’s theme for 2024, “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose,” reflects the Organization's commitment to leveraging digital innovation and building strategic partnerships for environmental stewardship.

WCO Secretary General, Ian Saunders, emphasizes, “Today we stand at crossroads for wildlife conservation. The WCO is championing a future where technology and collaboration form the backbone of our efforts to protect our planet’s biodiversity. We need to unite under this common cause, leveraging innovation to create a sustainable sanctuary for all. Let this World Wildlife Day mark the beginning of a renewed commitment to not just coexist with nature, but to actively defend and nurture it.”  

Highlighting digital solutions like Single Window mechanisms, the WCO illustrates how technology streamlines data exchange between public authorities and trade stakeholders, boosts transparency, and enhances enforcement, particularly under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) framework. It underscores the role of digital innovations in integrating CITES electronic permits into Customs operations, bolstering both diversity protection and the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

Digital platforms are also praised for enabling cross-border partnerships that deliver real conservation wins. Through its involvement in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the WCO showcases its dedication to collaborative efforts against wildlife crime.

The WCO will continue to lead the way in promoting technological advancements and collaborative initiatives and invites its stakeholders to take part in this global endeavour. By embracing technology, we can overcome barriers to effective wildlife conservation and ensure a sustainable future for all beings that live on our planet.