By the Blouin News Science & Health staff

U.N. launches Wild for Life campaign to end poaching, illicit trade

by in Environment.

Burning illegal ivory.(Source: International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Rescue/flickr)

Burning illegal ivory in Gabon. (Source: International Fund for Animal Welfare Animal Rescue/flickr)

On Wednesday the U.N. launched an unprecedented campaign against illegal trade in wildlife, called #WildforLife. It warned that this destructive worldwide trade is pushing species to the brink of extinction, robbing countries of their natural heritage, and profiting international criminal networks.

The campaign asks participants to find their kindred species and use their own spheres of influence to end the illegal trade, however it touches or impacts them, according to the U.N. News Centre. Stopping this trade is also crucial to achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, as it threatens countries’ biodiversity and people’s livelihoods, and disturbs peace. SDG 15 specifically calls for the protection of wild fauna and flora, as well as the ecosystems that they depend on, and it includes targets on combatting and addressing the supply and demand of illegal wildlife products.

Politicians, celebrities, and business leaders will be making pledges to make a difference during the current U.N. Environment Assembly, and in the run-up to World Environment Day on June 5. The latter’s theme this year is “Go Wild For Life” to tie in with the U.N. campaign, and host country Angola will make “significant pledges to tackle the illegal ivory trade at the event.”

At the 2015 BCLS, Global Thermostat CEO Graciela Chichilnisky called for the creation not just of a global carbon market, but a “blue market” for biomass we extract from the sea, and another for biodiversity. With limits and prices in place, nations can then trade, with market incentives to cut wasteful use and crack down on crime.

It will take a global solution for this global problem, and the situation is only getting more urgent. But the first step is raising awareness.