I am happy to be a part of this launch of a new project that will help Namibia in its strong efforts to fight wildlife crime.
Under the leadership of the Honorable Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, and through collaboration with police, prosecutors, magistrates, the ACC, NGOs, and communities, Namibia is a model for conservation in the region. Namibia’s community-based conservation, rhino custodian program, and other collaborative efforts have had great success in combating poaching in recent years.
Wildlife crime is pushing some of the world’s most iconic species toward extinction, while driving a lucrative criminal industry that fuels instability in countries around the world.
Wildlife crime is a critical threat to economic development and undermines security. When we lose wildlife and security as a result of poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, we also lose tools that are essential to fight poverty.
In Namibia, wildlife is an important cultural and economic asset, contributing significantly to the tourism sector and sustaining the livelihoods of many people. The U.S. Government is committed to working with Namibia to help stop poaching and wildlife trafficking, both within Namibia and across international boundaries.
To that end, the U.S. Government is currently funding conservation-related projects in Namibia valued at more than 276 million Namibian dollars. These projects include community-based work to ensure the value of wildlife for everyone, equipment for anti-poaching efforts, and training courses for those involved in addressing wildlife crime.
Wildlife crime is a form of serious, transnational organized crime. Concerted international cooperation is needed to dismantle the networks that perpetrate it. Collaborative efforts among governments, international and non-governmental organizations, and donors must be well coordinated to properly address wildlife and forest crime.
This is why the U.S. Government supports the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit and Indicator Framework, which the Namibian government is launching here today.
The project will be described in more detail by our other speakers. In brief, it provides a technical resource to assist governments in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of a country’s response to wildlife crime. The result is a report that includes the analysis’ findings, along with recommendations on how to improve the country’s response to wildlife crime.
This is an innovative project that has been implemented in several countries with excellent results. The Toolkit provides a sound evidence base to guide efforts to combat wildlife and environmental crimes.
The United States has a strong partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, around the world. We are supporting UNODC’s work in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and now – co-funded with the EU – specifically in Namibia. I am pleased that the U.S. government is able to fund the Toolkit for Namibia, while the EU is funding the Indicator Framework. The project will involve robust collaboration among several government ministries, with the result benefitting the entire country.
The most effective way to combat wildlife crime is for everyone to work together. This is why it is encouraging to see officials of several ministries here today to participate in this launch and workshop organized by the ACC.
I would like to commend Namibia for its commitment in working with UNODC and the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime to implement the Toolkit. I look forward to seeing the outcome of this project and continuing to support Namibia’s successful conservation efforts.