Executive representatives from Hong Kong International Airport, Munich International Airport, Sydney Airport, and Toronto Pearson International Airport have pledged their commitment to join the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking by signing the United for Wildlife (UFW) Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration.
The critical need for a strong global effort is demonstrated by the fact that the illegal wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative transnational crimes and estimated by the United Nations to be worth up to $23 billion annually.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration is a historic agreement which sets out tangible steps that can be taken to close the routes exploited by traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade as they attempt to smuggle their products from rare and vulnerable ecosystems.
Hong Kong International Airport, Munich International Airport, Sydney Airport, and Toronto Pearson International Airport join more than 100 transport sector companies who have confirmed their support for the initiative since 2016.
“ACI and its members are dedicated to promoting the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade by airports and I welcome the commitment of Hong Kong, Munich, Sydney, and Toronto in joining the fight,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Wildlife trafficking has become a multi-million-dollar business and. as the world becomes more interconnected, poachers are looking to abuse the air transport system to move illegal wildlife goods. Airports continue to be central to stamping out this trade.”
The Buckingham Palace Declaration contains eleven commitments to raise standards across the transportation industry and focuses on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource-sharing with its international stakeholders.
“Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) adopts zero tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trafficking and we are honored to be a signing party of the Buckingham Palace Declaration,” said Airport Authority Hong Kong Executive Director of Airport Operations Vivian Cheung. “At HKIA, we work closely with the whole airport community to fight illegal wildlife trade, while efforts to raise public awareness continue through publicity means such as posters and model displays.”
Munich Airport Chief Executive Officer Dr. Michael Kerkloh observed that “state-of-the-art technologies” are being implemented to combat the unlawful transport of endangered plant and animal species.
“Consequently, we are fully committed to supporting all efforts to impede the activities of international traffickers and promote the legal protection of endangered species,” he adds.
Sydney Airport Chief Operating Officer Hugh Wehby said that “Australia’s unique wildlife” is often a target of illegal wildlife trafficking, while Greater Toronto Airports Authority Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Kim Stangeby noted that the declaration will help to “harmonize” action against trafficking.
It’s only a matter of time before U.S. airports join this effort says Chuck Clowdis, managing director of the consultancy Trans-Logistics Group, Inc.
“I can think of very few countries and Airport Boards & Commissions that could stand the heat by condoning illegal Animal trafficking,” he said in an interview. “Even in origin countries where poaching is rampant, it would be more than unseemly to approve this heinous trade.”
In addition to supporting airport membership to share their commitment by joining the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, Airports Council International is a key industry partner working with the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership to engage and support industry, improve data analytics, increase collaboration with enforcement, provide training and raise awareness on the issue.
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