Below is the text of the speech made by Hugo Swire at the UK Mission to the UN at Geneva on 3rd March 2014.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be here, and I am grateful to the Good Planet Foundation for the wonderful prints they have provided today.
I want to say a few words about the importance the United Kingdom attaches to ending the illegal wildlife trade.
It is not just an environmental crisis. It is a global criminal industry that drives corruption, insecurity and undermines efforts to cut poverty and promote sustainable development. There is even anecdotal evidence that terrorism could benefit from it. Tackling it would build growth, rule of law, stability and good governance.
That is why the UK supports the vital work of CITES under the admirable leadership of John Scanlon
That is why we applaud Thailand and CITES’ initiative to establish World Wildlife Day,
And that is why the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, hosted the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade two weeks ago, in the presence of their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
I am delighted the conference was such a success. It agreed ambitious measures, showed new political commitment and marked a turning point in the effort to halt, and reverse, the current poaching crisis.
For the first time, governments committed to renouncing the use of products from animals threatened with extinction.
They agreed to support the current CITES commercial prohibition on the international ivory trade until the survival of elephants in the wild is no longer threatened
And they agreed to treat poaching and wildlife trafficking as serious organised crime – like trafficking in drugs, arms and people.
After the conference, the work continues. Chad burned its 1.1 ton ivory stockpile. Vietnam strengthened its protection of endangered species. The UK added Anguilla to the list of UK Overseas Territories covered by CITES. And we welcome Botswana’s offer to host a follow conference next year.
But there is much more to do. And we strongly encourage countries that were not present at the Conference to associate themselves with the London Declaration.
So my message is simple: the illegal wildlife trade must stop now.
Together, the international community can stop it. And if we act on the London Conference commitment, I believe we will.