On March 3, UN member states and civil societies gathered in the ECOSOC Chamber to celebrate World Wildlife Day 2016. Under the theme “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” wildlife conservation was a recurring topic of discussion. Ms. Gallach opened the conference with statements in support of protection for African and Asian elephants. She also called for stronger law enforcement and government participation to fight wildlife crime. Following, Mr. Harris emphasized the need for outreach and communication, which are essential to inspiring people to engage in activity to end illegal trade. As poaching is reaching unprecedented proportions, the continuation of raising awareness particularly to consumers of wildlife products is important.
Ms. Monasebian introduced a stricter tone and pointed out weak international law enforcements and under-equipped agencies. She then listed ways that the UNODC is combatting wildlife crime, including working with law enforcement to build judicial capacity and providing alternative livelihoods. A video statement from Mr. Vella continued this sentiment and highlighted the need for cooperation and collaboration.
Later, Mr. Sekhran gave a powerful statement on how there is no economy without nature, and humans depend upon the planet for our existence. He underscored how protecting nature is crucial as the population will grow by another one billion people prior to 2030, and statisticians have said that the world will not stabilize until population hits 11.2 billion.
Finally, Ms. Paratian wrapped up the presentations with examples of awareness in regards to wildlife protection. She cited the Chi Campaign in Vietnam, which is directed towards businessmen purchasing rhino horns as status symbols. Although it is difficult to be fully knowledgeable on the true impacts of these campaigns, she advocated for further involvement in these endeavors for wildlife conservation.
Meeting: Celebration of World Wildlife Day 2016
Date/Location: Thursday, March 3, 2016; ECOSOC Chamber; UN Headquarters; NYC
Speakers: John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General; Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General on behalf of UN Deputy Secretary-General; Virachai Plasai, Permanent Representative of Thailand; Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of NY Office of UNEP; Simone Monasebian, Director of NY Office of UNODC on behalf of UNODC Executive Director; Karmenu Vella, EC Commissioner of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries; Heiko Thoms, Ambassador of Charge d’Affaires of Germany to UN; Robert Dreher, Associate Director of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; Nik Sekhran, Chief of Practice & Director, Sustainable Development Cluster, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP; John Robinson, Executive Vice President, Conservation and Science, WCS; Tania Paratian, Manager Intergovernmental Relations, WWF International
Written by: WIT Representatives Julianne Jeon and Olivia Gong
Edited by: WIT Representative Alex Margolick