UNDP Administrator at luncheon with First Lady of Kenya

Jun 25, 2014

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator: Speech on Wildlife Conservation at State House Luncheon, Nairobi, Kenya
25 June 2014

Her Excellency the First Lady,
Honourable Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

My deepest thanks go to Her Excellency, the First Lady of Kenya, for hosting this important event addressing the critical issues of poaching and illicit trade in wildlife. I applaud the First Lady for placing her voice and prestige at the forefront of efforts to stop wildlife crime in Kenya, especially through the #HandsOffOurElephants campaign.  

The poaching crisis in Africa poses serious development, environmental, and security challenges to the continent. It is pushing vulnerable and endangered species toward extinction; fueling corruption and conflict; destroying lives; and deepening poverty and inequality.  We must all collaborate to stop this horrific trade.

Just this month we have all heard the devastating news of the killing of Satao, a magnificent bull elephant, one of the last great tuskers, who was felled by a poisoned arrow. This follows the tragic killing of Mountain Bull, another iconic elephant recently slain, and of many others with no name. Anger is rising in Africa and beyond at this heavy toll of death and destruction of animals who cannot defend themselves against criminal gangs.

The deaths of iconic animals are deeply distressing. As well, if not addressed decisively, they will have a significant economic impact too. Here, in Kenya,  wildlife tourism attracts more than one million tourists per year, generates over twelve per cent of national GDP, and directly employs more than a  quarter of a million Kenyans.  As Kenya moves to realize its Vision 2030, conserving its wildlife will be even more important in achieving middle-income country status where growth in high value tourism and related sectors must play an important part.

UNDP and our UN system partners, especially UNEP and UNODC, are totally committed to working in partnership with the Government of Kenya and other governments and partners to combat poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. I acknowledge the growing support of the United Kingdom for UN work in this area.

UNDP brings to the table its global expertise in building strong institutions and the rule of law, and on poverty eradication and environmental protection. We see the poaching crisis being addressed through a three pronged strategy which creates sustainable livelihoods for communities; strengthens governance and law enforcement; and reduces the demand for illegal wildlife products. Let me address each of these briefly:

i.    Addressing rural poverty and creating opportunities for sustainable livelihoods will play an essential part in tackling wildlife poaching and trafficking. The social and economic benefits of wildlife conservation in Kenya’s parks, reserves, and conservancies should be going to the nation and to local communities. The slaying of wildlife and wrecking the economic potential associated with its conservation amounts to destruction of a public good.

Community-based natural resource management can also be very effective in reducing illegal wildlife trade. With financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP is investing in the increasingly successful conservancies approach, in which Kenya is a leader. UNDP is supporting a new conservancies-based project in the Amboseli ecosystem, plus a number of other initiatives through our GEF-funded small grants programme where we are supporting the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, a national network organisation. We stand ready to increase the scope of our support for community-based approaches in future.

When I was in Kenya two years ago, I met local communities around Amboseli, and saw large herds of elephants. I hope the work which we and all other partners are doing will make it possible for future generations to have the experience of seeing these incredible animals in their natural habitat.

ii.    Strengthening governance and law enforcement  is also a critical component of an anti-poaching and trafficking strategy. Illegal practices flourish where institutions and law enforcement capacities are not as robust as they need to be. Kenya is boosting its law enforcement with new investments in rangers and police reservists and their capacities. It is imperative that law enforcement and intelligence officers based in parks, reserves, and conservancies are properly trained and equipped to deal with ruthless and increasingly professional poachers.

The role of the judiciary in applying the full weight of the law to wildlife crime is vital too. Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, enacted in January, sends a strong message that this country will defend its wildlife. The law now must be upheld. UNDP is committed to supporting Kenya in this area.

iii.    The challenge of reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife is a global one. Other species far away from Africa, like tigers and snow leopards, are threatened too. Thus there needs to be a global response. South-South and all other relevant forms of international co-operation must be used. UNDP is working through its Country Offices in Asia to help address the problem there. Diplomatic engagement, international co-operation, funding, and advocacy all have roles to play.

We are slowly seeing an increase in international commitment to tackle the issues - across source, transit, and consumer countries.  Committed partners are here today – the national government; bilateral, multilateral and regional partners; NGOs; the private sector; and dedicated individuals. Let’s make sure we co-ordinate our efforts for maximum effect.

I take the opportunity of today’s special event to pledge UNDP’s support to the Government of Kenya on wildlife conservation and announce a new partnership we are launching today with the Office of the First Lady. This initiative will work with communities in the Amboseli ecosystem, on creating opportunities for economic development and providing communities with a greater say in environmental management and decision-making at the county level.

As UNDP, we pledge to do whatever we can to curb poaching and stop the vile and illegal wildlife trade. Once again I thank the First Lady for her leadership on these vital issues.

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