Side Event on Wildlife and Sustainable Development: Opening Statement by State Minister Dr. Maria Böhmer
Ambassador Norachit Sinhaseni,
Dear Mr Pasztor,
Ladies and gentlemen!
On 20th December 2013 the United Nations General Assembly decided to proclaim 3rd March as World Wildlife Day.
We commend Thailand on this initiative and we are happy that today we are able to mark the first World Wildlife Day together here in New York.
Today we are celebrating the beauty of wild fauna and flora. The World Wildlife Day reminds us of the benefits that wildlife provides to people.
And of the need of biodiversity preservation.
And last but not least it provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the urgent need to step up the fight against poaching and illicit wildlife trafficking, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.
Germany considers poaching and illicit trafficking in animal products such as ivory or rhino horn as serious and growing problems. Poaching and trafficking used to be driven by poverty and hunger, compounded by weak institutions and a failure to prosecute the perpetrators.
The situation has deteriorated dramatically. Elephant herds are killed from helicopters by poachers using automatic weapons. This provides the hunters with big amounts of ivory. Much money is made and channelled through networks of organized crime. The money is used to buy arms, stir up political unrest and finance terrorist activities.
Just five years ago, only about a dozen rhinos were killed in South Africa. Last year the figure stood at almost 1.000!
We are again faced with a real threat to the survival of species.
This problem reaches beyond the protection of biodiversity.
We need to secure the economic foundations of many countries; we have to counter the spread of organised crime; we must prevent the destabilisation of entire regions and preventing uncontrolled militarisation.
This acute poaching crisis has thus become a serious problem for foreign and security policy.
The UN Security Council has therefore acknowledged wildlife poaching and trafficking as a threat to peace. Its recent resolutions on the Central African republic and on the Democratic Republic of Congo authorized targeted sanctions against poachers and traffickers.
Let us therefore also send a signal from this meeting that the international community is determined to put an end to poaching with its links to organised crime.
Germany and Gabun have established a Group of Friends with the aim to come up with concrete proposals to halt this detrimental development. Together with Gabun, we hope to receive reports from representatives of various UN organisations about their activities in this field.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sustainable development cannot be achieved against nature and wildlife.
Just a few weeks ago, at the last session of the Open Working Group, we discussed the importance of biodiversity.
This week, we are here again for the next phase of the Open Working Group - the consensus building which will lead us to a report.
You will find that the priority areas identified by the Co-Chairs do include the issues we are discussing here today.