London - On behalf of the aviation industry, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) signed a declaration aimed at reducing the illegal trafficking of wildlife and underlining the aviation industry’s commitment to sustainability.
The interconnected air transport network is being exploited by criminal gangs to smuggle animals or their products from the killing field to the market place. The air transport industry can help stop this trade by providing additional intelligence to enforcement authorities about suspicious shipments.
“I can think of few other causes that galvanize more interest and support across the global transport and logistics sectors than the challenge of wildlife trafficking, said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
The ‘United for Wildlife’ initiative, created by the Royal Foundation of The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge & Prince Harry, invited representatives of the transport industry to Buckingham Palace to pledge their support. IATA, Airports Council International, the African Airlines Association and a number of individual airlines signed commitments aimed at raising awareness of the trafficking issue among passengers, and training staff to recognize and report suspicious packages and behavior.
The initial focus of action will be on the trafficking of high-risk protected animals, specifically certain big cats, pangolins, and ivory products, on high-risk routes, particularly originating from or transiting through East Africa.
“Today marks a step forward for environmental protection—a commitment that we take very seriously. In the 1990’s the industry came together to address noise. More recently we joined forces to manage our impact on climate change—committing as an industry to carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and to cut net emissions to half the 2005 levels by 2050. We now extend that commitment to playing an active role in reducing illegal trafficking of wildlife. We will collaborate in support of government enforcement authorities to put an end to this evil trade,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Cooperation with enforcement authorities and international conservation organizations such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has already begun. 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.