The European Commission is launching a public consultation for the evaluation and revision of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking (“Wildlife Action Plan”) 2016-2020. Wildlife trafficking is one of the most profitable forms of organised crime and the fight against it is a key priority issue in the EU. This illicit activity not only contributes to the depletion or extinction of entire species, it also destroys the natural resources on which economies and livelihoods depend.
The consultation aims at collecting information and views from citizens and stakeholder organisations on the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, relevance and added value of the Action Plan in curbing wildlife trafficking. It will also prepare the ground for a revision of the Action Plan, a key deliverable of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.
Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said:
The previous EU Wildlife Action Plan has helped to focus attention on one of the major drivers of biodiversity loss. As promised in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, it is now time to find out in-depth how well the Action Plan has served its purpose, and how we can improve it for the future. The EU is committed to maintaining its global leadership role in the fight against wildlife trafficking.
The Action Plan stepped up EU efforts to tackle wildlife trafficking both within the EU and at global level. In 2018, the Commission adopted a progress report on the implementation of the Action Plan. The public consultation launched this week will help to further evaluate the progress made under the EU Action Plan as well as identify remaining weaknesses, thereby paving the ground for its revision.
The consultation on the evaluation and revision of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking is open for feedback for 12 weeks, until 28 December 2021. The results of the publication will be summarised and published on the “Have your say” website.
Illegal wildlife trade – also referred to as “wildlife trafficking” – is the illegal trade in wild animals and plants, their parts and derived products. These are sought for many different uses, including food and medicinal products, for timber, textiles, leather and other luxury goods, or as pets and decorative plants. This trade severely harms biodiversity, leading to the decline and potential extinction of some species due to unsustainable extraction from the wild. It also negatively impacts sustainable development of local communities, as it limits their use of natural resources (e.g. use of timber resources, medicinal plants) or other forms of economic development, such as nature-based tourism (e.g. for big mammals and birds).
While many people think of illegal wildlife trade as being an issue only in Africa and Asia, Europe also has an important role to play in the fight against trafficking of certain species, as a destination market and with regard to trafficking in transit to other regions. Some species native to EU Member States (e.g. European eel) are also exported illegally to other parts of the world.
Illegal wildlife trade is widely considered to be one of the largest black markets worldwide, comparable to and involving some of the same actors as other forms of organised criminal activity, such as arms smuggling, drug trafficking and human trafficking. While criminals often consider it a relatively low-risk activity, the profits are high and in 2016 were estimated to be worth between €8 and €20 billion globally.
In 2016, the European Commission set out a strategy to strengthen the fight against illegal wildlife trade, within the EU as well as at global level, in the Communication on an EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking. The Action Plan has three priorities:
- Preventing wildlife trafficking and addressing its root causes;
- Implementing and enforcing existing rules and fighting organised wildlife crime more effectively; and
- Strengthening the global partnership of source, consumer and transit countries against wildlife trafficking.
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