The International Air Transport Association (IATA) 72nd Annual General Meeting (AGM) unanimously endorsed a resolution denouncing the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products and pledging to partner with government authorities and conservation organizations in the fight against the traffickers of endangered animals.
“The illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many endangered species, the local communities and businesses that depend on them, and poses a risk to health and safety. In line with our broad commitment to sustainability, the airline industry is reinforcing its role by helping to shut down the vile activities of poaching and trafficking,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The resolution urges governments to commit additional resources to address illegal trafficking and calls on airlines to:
- Increase passenger, client, customer and employee awareness about the nature, scale and consequences of the illegal wildlife trade
- Partner with airports, freight forwarders and other stakeholders to work proactively with enforcement agencies and conservation organizations to address the problem
- Consider the adoption of appropriate policies and procedures to discourage trafficking through awareness programs, information sharing and incident reporting
In March 2016 IATA was among the signatories to the Buckingham Palace Declarationsupporting the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce initiative of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. The resolution also encourages airlines individually to sign the Declaration.
In a recorded message to the AGM delegates, His Royal Highness Prince William the Duke of Cambridge urged the industry to unite in support of this cause.
“Many airlines, and your association IATA, have already signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, pledging your support for our aims. IATA has been instrumental in helping set up workshops to raise awareness and educate front-line staff to spot smugglers in the act. The more of you that can join us in this work, the more powerful our deterrence activities will be. These criminal gangs are exploiting the incredible global aviation network you have built, and it needs nothing short of a global coalition to find them and stop them,” said the Duke of Cambridge.
“We all have a responsibility to protect our planet and its diverse ecology. I am aware of the important goals you have set for capping and reducing carbon emissions from civil air transport. This is to your credit and shows the power of aviation when it comes together as a force for good. Now I ask you to make a commitment to our planet’s wildlife, to join us and help save our most precious animals for future generations to enjoy,” said the Duke.
“We are honored that the Duke of Cambridge has recognized aviation’s role in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking. Aviation has taken a responsible approach to its sustainable development. We are determined to ensure that the global air transport network will not be exploited for the nefarious purposes of illegal wildlife traders,” said Tyler.
The resolution furthers the airline industry’s heightened activity in this area. At the 71st IATA AGM last year, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) . Two awareness-raising workshops for airline and airport staff have been held at international airports in Nairobi and Bangkok. In addition, IATA joined the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership. New guidance material for airlines has been published, and an IATA Environment Committee Wildlife Taskforce has been set up to monitor progress and provide advice on the next steps.