NAIROBI: As part of a 30 million euro intervention, the EU has signed a 17.2 million euro agreement with three UN institutions working jointly to reduce the illegal killing of wildlife and trafficking of wildlife products throughout eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The new 'cross-regional wildlife programme' will focus its activities in the region's most important protected areas, national transit points, and in some of Africa's most important trans-boundary ecosystems.
After signing the agreement on Tuesday at the UN Headquarters here on the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly, Stefano A. Dejak, European Union ambassador to Kenya, said," Illegal killing and trafficking of wildlife now runs into billions of dollars. To combat it, we need to find new ways to work together more effectively."
"This new initiative brings together the European Union and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS).The aim is to build on our various strengths and experiences in protecting wildlife across borders," he added.
The new project aims at tackling the illegal killing of wildlife and the trafficking of wildlife products at three levels.
These include Cites, through its Mike Programme, which will lead the implementation of activities to reduce the illegal killing of wildlife at a number of priority protected areas located in critical trans-boundary ecosystems throughout eastern and southern Africa.
At the national and regional level, UNODC will lead activities focused on reducing the international trafficking of wildlife products by strengthening and expanding their highly successful Container Control Programme, improving criminal justice responses and enhancing capacities through the criminal justice chain under the Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime.
Director-General of the UN Office Sahle-Work Zewde said," As we move rapidly towards 2030, providing technical assistance to member states as they strive to achieve the bold targets of the sustainable development goals is a challenge of scale."
"Goal 15 is no exception, and the European Union, with its generous financial contribution, is helping ensure that the children of Africa will be able to witness the magnificent diversity its land has to offer," he said.
After the signing of the agreement, UNODC's Regional Coordinator for the Wildlife and Forest Crime programme Javier Montano said," The comprehensive approach of this programme will certainly go a long way to bringing systemic change as well as enhancing the criminal justice responses to wildlife crime in the regions."
Interestingly, a startling report by the UN Environment in November said the Carpathian forests, home to the largest remaining populations of brown bears, wolves and lynx across 15 countries in central and eastern Europe, are frequently exposed to poaching.
The forests spread over the Danube-Carpathian region, located in central and eastern Europe, are facing illegal logging and wildlife trade that threaten the region's biodiversity and people's livelihoods despite European and international environmental legislation.
The EU single market adds additional challenges to control the illegal wildlife trade that moves freely between 28 member countries.
The report "Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime in the Danube-Carpathian Region" that was presented in the European Parliament in Brussels was prepared by the UN Environment together with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Eurac Research and supported by experts from across Europe.
Up to 36 million birds are being stolen or killed in the Mediterranean annually, the report says, with many ending up on plates in Italian and Maltese restaurants.