In a move that can be seen to support the Namibian government’s efforts to fight the estimated US$20 billion (about N$312 billion) a year illegal global trade in wildlife products, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA’s) 72nd Annual General Meeting on Thursday unanimously endorsed a resolution denouncing the illegal trade.
It also pledged to partner with government authorities and conservation organisations in the fight against the traffickers of endangered animals.
“The illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many endangered species, the local communities and businesses that depend on them, and poses a risk to health and safety. In line with our broad commitment to sustainability, the airline industry is reinforcing its role by helping to shut down the vile activities of poaching and trafficking,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO.
The IATA resolution urges governments to commit additional resources to address illegal trafficking and calls on airlines to increase passenger, client, customer and employee awareness about the nature, scale and consequences of the illegal wildlife trade. The resolution further encourages individual airlines to sign the Declaration.
During the recent second Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, held in Botswana, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Relations and International Co-operation Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said Namibia established a National Wildlife Protection and Security Committee to curb the escalating poaching of wildlife.
Nandi-Ndaitwah explained that the objective of the committee is to bring together relevant stakeholders in the private, public and civil society sectors to work out and implement strategies to curb wildlife-related crimes. At the meeting in Botswana, Nandi-Ndaitwah warned that if the illegal wildlife trade is not curbed it would not only lead to loss of income and jobs to the affected communities, but the entire wildlife conservation effort would be at risk of collapse.
“The issue of illegal wildlife trade at both domestic and international levels is a reality and has the potential to undermine conservation efforts,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah at the time.
She added that at its current levels, the unsustainable trade in illegal wildlife would deprive nations of their natural capital and cultural heritage and undermine sustainable development. “We, therefore, call upon producer, transit and user countries to work together to eradicate illegal trade in wildlife products.”
IATA was among the signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declaration supporting the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce initiative in March 2016.
The original airline signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declaration were Air China Cargo, Air India, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, International Airlines Group (British Airways, Iberia, Vueling Airlines and Aer Lingus), Jet Airways, Kenya Airways, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and South African Airways.
On Thursday an additional 10 airlines signed the Declaration at the IATA AGM. They are Air Berlin, Air Mauritius, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Cathay Pacific Airways, Finnair, Luxair, SriLankan Airlines and Virgin Australia.