First-ever World Wildlife Day Celebrated

wildlifeday3 March 2014: World Wildlife Day was recognized by the UN as a day for the international community to celebrate wildlife, its relationship with people, and to find pathways for a sustainable future where people and wildlife can coexist harmoniously. The first-ever World Wildlife Day is being celebrated on 3 March 2014. 

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, urged all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably. John Scanlon, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) stressed the importance of this day to draw global attention to the collective responsibility of bringing illegal wildlife trade to an end.

In a joint editorial with Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), Scanlon emphasized the role of wildlife conservation in bringing together states that may be in conflict. In another joint editorial, Chambers and Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), highlighted the relationships between migratory species and climate change.

Also on the Day, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, drew attention to wildlife crime and illegal logging. UNEP noted the estimated US$19 billion in illicit trade derived from wildlife crime, as well as current efforts to combat it, especially in regard to elephants, rhinoceros, apes and forests. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary, Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, highlighted the benefits provided by wildlife, noting also, efforts under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity to halt biodiversity loss.

To mark the Day, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) stressed the role of tropical forests as an important habitat for wildlife. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) called for holistic policies to protect wildlife as an important part of dryland ecosystems and to save endangered species from extinction. Finally the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) underscored that legal, well-regulated and sustainable hunting is important for conservation. The World Bank also emphasized connections between wildlife and sustainable development. 

The Tokyo Conference on Combating Wildlife Crime, hosted by the UN University (UNU), will also be held concurrent with the Day, and will address issues of wildlife policy making as well as poaching. Finally, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and partners announced the launch of the Human-wildlife Conflicts (HWC) Centre at the Mukuvisi woodlands, in Zimbabwe. [World Wildlife Day website] [CITES Press Release] [Secretary-General's Message] [CMS World Wildlife Day Messages] [UNEP Press Release] [CBD Statement] [ITTO News Release] [UNCCD Message] [CIC Message] [IISD Wildlife Crime Overview] [World Bank News] [Tokyo Conference Meeting Information] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release]