IIED calls for more attention on effective community engagement in tackling illegal wildlife trade

IIED will argue more attention is needed to monitor action against commitments that have been made to tackle illegal wildlife trade at a major international meeting on protecting wildlife this week.

News, 15 August 2019
A parrot looking out of a cardboard box in a shopping bag

This African grey parrot was one 86 animals being smuggled onto a bus by a wildlife trader in Vietnam (Photo: Wildlife Alliance via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

IIED’s Dilys Roe will be calling for better monitoring and evaluation of actions to tackle the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) at a side event on the opening day of the meeting of the parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to CITES will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 17-28 August. The CITES treaty aims to protect species from becoming endangered or extinct because of international trade. 182 nations and the European Union are parties to the agreement.

At a COP18 side event organised by the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Roe will review the findings of an in-depth study conducted by IIED on behalf of WWF-UK, looking at the actions different countries have taken on combating IWT – as compared to the commitments they have previously made at international wildlife conferences. 

Roe, who chairs the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), will also report that to date, most funding and action on IWT has focused on law enforcement activities, instead of community-based approaches that involve local people in protecting wildlife.

One of the potential reasons for this imbalance is a lack of knowledge about how to engage local communities and which approaches work best. IIED, SULi and partners are trying to address this gap by building an evidence base on the effectiveness of community-led approaches. They have built an online learning platform, People Not Poaching, to bring together case studies and information resources on anti-IWT activities that are inclusive of local communities. 

New briefing paper looks at funding and action on commitments

To coincide with the CITES COP, IIED has published a briefing paper that summarises the findings of the study conducted for WWF-UK, looking at funding and action for combating IWT. The paper highlights large disparities in the way IWT funding is spent, both geographically, in terms of species, and in terms of the type of approach taken.

It says greater attention needs to be paid to reporting on impact and effectiveness, rather than simply reporting on activities undertaken. (The full report of the study (PDF) is published by WWF-UK.)

Event details

Title: Assessing progress on tackling global illegal wildlife trade
Date and time: 17 August 2019, 12.15-2pm
Venue: Room E – (120)

Chair: Dr. Cheryl Case, head of delegation, deputy director, International, UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Panellists include: Professor EJ Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford and director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science; Andrew Tobiason, conservation advisor, Forestry and Biodiversity Office, USAID; Dr Dilys Roe, principal researcher and team leader (biodiversity), IIED’s Natural Resources research group

Agenda: The meeting will look at the challenges of evaluating commitments and actions taken on IWT, and the progress to date. It aims to gather feedback on potential ways forward in developing tools to enable evaluation of IWT interventions and provide a stronger evidence base to underpin evaluations.