US Biodiversity envoy supports fight against wildlife crime
November 22 2022
Monica Medina, the US Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources,
attended the ongoing Fourth Global Meeting of the Wildlife Enforcement
Networks (or WENs), convened by the CITES Secretariat on behalf of ICCWC
(the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime), in Panama to
support the fight against wildlife crime.
The WENs are regional networks that boost collaboration amongst countries
in the regions to enhance their responses to wildlife crime. The US has had
a long-standing commitment to supporting these networks.
It is estimated that the illegal wildlife trade could be worth more than
$20 billion and causes incalculable damage to the world's wildlife. For
many species, it's fuelling the drive towards extinction.
The Global Meeting of WENs is occurring on the margins of the World
The conference, also known as CITES CoP19, is a meeting of representatives
of more than 160 nations to decide the regulations that will govern the
conservation of more nearly 40,000 of the world's most endangered species
of animals and plants.
Medina was appointed Special Envoy for Biodiversity and Water Resources two
months ago as a signal of the commitment of the Biden administration to
addressing the environmental crises the world is facing.
Her presence in Panama has allowed her to hold discussions with some of the
world's foremost wildlife conservationists and also see the work being done
to tackle the illegal trade in wildlife.
CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora. A total of 183 nations -- including the US -- and
also the European Union are Parties to the Convention. It holds a COP once
every two or three years to allow this ultimate decision-making body to
modify the regulations governing international wildlife trade.
It came into being nearly 50 years ago and no species in its history has
gone extinct as a result of international trade. This year the meeting
comes at a crucial point with multiple scientific reports noting a drastic
loss in biodiversity and more than a million species threatened with
Media, also the Assistant Secretary of State, met the Secretary-General of
CITES, Ivonne Higuero. They discussed the coordinated, multilateral
conservation responses that are designed to reverse the loss in
biodiversity and also how nature is central to addressing the climate
The Secretary-General acknowledged the important role that the US plays in
CITES: "The success of CITES in conserving the world's endangered wildlife
is down to the way the Parties work together to take the decisions that
shape our policy and practice. The US has been committed to CITES, since it
came into being, and we need that commitment now, more than ever, as we
seek to tackle the planetary challenges we face."
Medina said: "I am here today (November 21) because the United States
remains determined to end wildlife trafficking and other nature crimes.
These criminal activities threaten national security, undermine the rule of
law, rob countries and communities of their natural resource base and
revenue, drive species to the brink of extinction, and spread disease.
"They must be stopped and the time to act is now. Only by working together
can we put a halt to these insidious crimes."
The meeting is taking place hard on the heels of the release of ICCWC
Vision 2030, which is working towards an end to wildlife crime through its
work and support to the CITES Parties.