Global Britain: How the UK Can Help to Tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade


Author: Katie Husselby

On Monday 17th December, the Coalition for Global Prosperity were delighted to host the Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, and a panel of experts to call for Britain to continue to act as a global leader in wildlife protection.

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

The event, co-hosted by the Coalition for Global Prosperity, WWF UK, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, built on the momentum and interest created from the UK Government’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in October, and explored how Britain can lead in the fight against the trade and protect endangered species for generations to come.

Zac Goldsmith MP, Captain Luke Townsend MA, David Fein, Dr Aili Kang, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Theo Clarke, Dr Niall McCann, Dr Mike Barrett

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP used his keynote address to draw attention to the crucial joined-up efforts between DEFRA and the Department for International Development in tackling this illicit criminal activity. He emphasised the need to connect with local individuals and initiatives, in order to create real and sustainable change which tackles the root causes of the trade.

The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP

Following opening remarks from our co-host Dr Mike Barrett (WWF UK), our Chief Executive Theo Clarke then chaired a panel of wildlife champions: Zac Goldsmith MP (Illegal Wildlife Trade Champion at the Government’s Conference earlier this year), Dr Niall McCann (National Park Rescue), Dr Aili Kang (Wildlife Conservation Society), David Fein (Standard Chartered Bank), and Captain Luke Townsend MA (Ministry of Defence).

Zac Goldsmith emphasised the need for cross-sector and coordinated efforts to tackle this substantial trade.

Working together, the Government, NGOs and the private sector can tackle the causes of the Illegal Wildlife Trade and the wider degradation of the environment. If we protect the environment properly, we will protect the people – usually the very poorest – who rely most directly on it for their way of life.
— Zac Goldsmith MP

Dr Niall McCann recognised that the trade is being run in the same manner as drug or people trafficking by organised criminals, and pointed to the need to tackle the root causes of corruption and poverty in order to protect precious national parks.

Smart British aid is leading the fight against the Illegal Wildlife Trade to protect endangered species, combat corruption and build security in the developing world.
— Dr Niall McCann

David Fein, Group General Counsel at Standard Chartered Bank, agreed that the entire model of enterprise needs to be disrupted, utilising the financial sector to prevent illicit financial flows.

British business is taking the fight to illegal wildlife traffickers to end corruption and instability, strengthen institutions, and build prosperity in developing countries.
— David Fein

Theo Clarke, who chaired the evening’s discussion, brought the evening to a close by praising Britain’s leadership in tackling the Illegal Wildlife Trade and helping to create a more prosperous world for both people and the natural world.

The Coalition was pleased to be able to champion this important issue in Parliament. The illegal wildlife trade is an increasing global problem that threatens the existence of some of our most iconic species of wildlife, but is also a serious organised crime that damages the livelihoods of the world’s poorest communities. DFID and DEFRA need to continue to work hand in hand to tackle this issue.
— Theo Clarke
Theo Clarke