The signing of a new declaration at Buckingham Palace has committed the leaders of the global transportation industry to major steps to fight criminal wildlife trafficking and has been hailed by The Duke of Cambridge Prince William as 'a game changer in the race against extinction.'
40 CEOs, Chairmen, and other leaders of airlines, shipping firms, port operators, customs agencies, intergovernmental organisations and conservation charities from around the world have become the founding signatories of the Declaration of the United for Wildlife International Taskforce on the Transportation of Illegal Wildlife Products.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration is the result of a year's worth of meetings, research, and coalition building by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, convened by The Duke of Cambridge and chaired at His Royal Highness's request by Lord Hague of Richmond.
Transport representatives on the Taskforce include companies and organisations based in China, USA, UAE, Kenya, the UK and Denmark.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World and Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization are among those to have signed the agreement.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration commits signatories to eleven commitments that will raise standards across the transportation industry to prevent traffickers from exploiting weaknesses as they seek to covertly move their products from killing field to marketplace.
The commitments focus on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource sharing across companies and organisations worldwide.
They will also see the world's leading transportation firms assisting those in poorer nations who are in need of expertise and new systems.
The work of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce has been strongly supported by the transport sector and a number of intergovernmental agencies, including the World Customs Organisation, the United Nations Development Programme and the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES).
Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, said: “If we allow current trends to continue, there will be no African elephants or rhinos left in the wild by the time my daughter Charlotte reaches her 25th birthday. The poaching crisis is bringing violence, death, and corruption to many vulnerable communities. It threatens to rob future generations of their livelihoods in those regions where wildlife tourism is the core of local economies.
“But this crisis can be stopped. By implementing these commitments, the signatories can secure a game changer in the race against extinction. I thank them for their commitment and I invite any other company in the industry to sign up to the Buckingham Palace Declaration and play their part in the fight against the poaching crisis.”
Lord Hague said: “The Declaration that we are signing today, developed by industry, NGOs, governments, and intergovernmental organisations, will target the chain between suppliers and consumers of this illicit trade.
“I want to thank everyone who has been part of this unprecedented initiative and I ask them all to sustain the momentum we have established over the past 15 months.
The commitments in the Buckingham Palace Declaration include developing information sharing systems for the transport industry to receive credible information about high risk routes and methods of transportation and supporting a secure system for passing information about suspected illegal wildlife trade.