Biodiversity & Livelihoods
Forests
Global Issues
Catherine Benson Wahlén, SDG Knowledge Hub / IISD
White Rhinos in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa
White rhinos | © Mathhias Mullie/unsplash

A recent report by the UNEP focuses on addressing trade in wildlife and forest products across the three sectors of crime prevention and criminal justice, trade regulation and natural resource management. It finds that there is less focus on the legislative means for preventing offenses related to trade in wildlife and forest products and more attention on the means for detecting and punishing such offenses.

January 2019: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report that identifies and analyzes global, regional and national institutions and legal frameworks on legal and illegal trade in wildlife and forest products. SDG target 15.7 calls for taking urgent action to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna and address both demand and supply of illegal wildlife products.

The publication titled, ‘Strengthening Legal Frameworks for Licit and Illicit Trade in Wildlife and Forest Products,’ focuses on addressing illegal trade in wildlife and forest products across the three sectors of crime prevention and criminal justice, trade regulation and natural resource management. The analysis considers how each of these sectors complement each other and areas in which they could better complement each other. The report finds that there is less focus on the legislative means for preventing offenses related to trade in wildlife and forest products and more attention on the means for detecting and punishing such offenses. The report argues, however, that neither effort should detract from natural resource management actions to ensure that conditions for access to and use of wildlife and forest resources are clear and fair. It further argues that criminal law enforcement efforts should not take precedence over trade regulation efforts.

The publication aims to support interested countries in assessing their experience with implementation of legal frameworks and opportunities to develop or further strengthen those frameworks. To assist countries in such analysis, the report provides a review of legal frameworks and relevant institutions at the global and regional levels as well as national legal frameworks.

The publication also aims to promote a more uniform understanding and application of terms to describe licit or illicit trade in wildlife and forest products, explaining that these terms “are often varied and inconsistent.” This inconsistency can lead to misunderstanding and less effective action. The publication proposes working definitions for “illicit or illegal”; “trade or trafficking”; and “wildlife and forest products.” The report argues that using consistent terminology could ensure better understanding of and cooperation between institutions addressing these topics.

On next steps, the report suggests further developing background information on the various regional and sub-regional institutions and instruments described in the report and continued identification and description of national legislative approaches, especially as new ones emerge. The report further suggests considering differences between institutions and legal frameworks for trade in wildlife and forest products versus fishery products, which are not addressed in the report.

The publication builds on a 2016 UNEP report, ‘Analysis of the Environmental Impacts of Illegal Trade in Wildlife,’ produced in response to a resolution on illegal trade in wildlife adopted at the first session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-1) and a UNEA-2 resolution on illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. The analysis is expected to help States with implementation of global and regional legally binding instruments, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) or the Lusaka Agreement on Co-operative Enforcement Operations Directed at Illegal Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora and other resolutions and policy decisions on the topic.

UNEP collaborated with the CITES Secretariat, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) on the analysis for the publication. [Publication: Strengthening Legal Frameworks for Licit and Illicit Trade in Wildlife and Forest Products] [Publication Landing Page]

[This article originally appeared on SDG Knowledge Hub / IISD.]

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