Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa; Day 3 Summary

Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa; Day 3 Summary
July 5, 2018 2:06 pm News

The third and final day of the workshop on “Developing a Coordinated Response to Wildlife Trafficking in West Africa” started with a review of the draft recommendations to high level decision-makers in a Plenary session.

Following this important step, the CITES management authority representative from Benin presented the final version of the “Strategic Areas of Intervention” to Plenary for adoption. This document confirmed the 6 priority areas and 47 strategic priority recommendations that the ECOWAS Member State representatives identified as necessary for countering wildlife crime in the sub region. In what is a major step forward for collaboration and coordination on combatting wildlife trafficking in West Africa, the document was officially adopted by the participants. This foundational document provides clear and collective guidance to support the development of an effective response to combat wildlife trafficking for West Africa, and to strengthen and enforce ongoing efforts and initiatives. The final documents will be soon available for distribution to policy makers, practitioners and the general public, to raise awareness and catalyze additional action on this issue of great importance to West Africa’s cultural and natural heritage.

To guide next steps after the workshop the participants also developed a roadmap towards the development and ultimate adoption by ECOWAS of a joint West Africa Strategy on Combating Wildlife Crime (WASCWC), supported with associated implementation mechanisms. The joint agreement for the development of the WASCWC calls for the establishment of a Regional Steering Committee. Senegal, Nigeria, Togo, Niger, Gambia, Liberia and Guinea Bissau were designated as the members of the Committee, with Senegal and Nigeria appointed as Char and Co-Chair, respectively. These consensus-driven outcomes clearly highlight the passion and determination of the participants to commit to every aspect of the process and their eagerness to work together to effectively tackle wildlife crime.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss other important aspects related to sub-regional coordination. Abba Sonko, the CITES Focal Point for Senegal, informed the participants about the activities already undertaken by Senegal to prepare future CITES meetings, and underscored the value and impact of West Africa speaking with one voice during international meetings. He urged participants to begin sharing information on proposals that they plan to submit to the 18th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP18, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 23 May – 3 June 2019) so that this newly empowered group can review and study the proposals in order to prepare to support their adoption as one voice during the meeting. These proposals were endorsed by the entire group, which also called on ECOWAS to support these efforts by organizing a preparatory coordination meeting before the next CoP, which was fully supported by ECOWAS.

The workshop closed with remarks from Dr. Johnson Boanuh, the Director of the ECOWAS Environment Directorate. He applauded USAID and WA BiCC for supporting this initiative and commended the participants for their passion, diligence and commitment to combatting wildlife crime in the region. He confirmed that ECOWAS was committed to fully support the adoption of the WASCWC and associated implementation mechanisms.

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