World Bank President Zoellick, U.S. Under Secretary of State Hormats commend progress on tiger conservation
On the first anniversary of the Tiger Summit, core partners in Global Tiger Initiative remain vigilant in face of aggressive wildlife poaching and trafficking
November 28, 2011, Washington, DC– If the fate of tigers in the wild were dependent solely on the dedication and passion of the conservationists present at the World Bank on Monday for the First Anniversary of the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, this iconic species would today likely be thriving in the forests across 13 tiger range countries in Asia. Unfortunately, the reality on the ground is harsh and complicated. The species is endangered and the estimated 3,200 wild tigers remain scattered among 76 landscapes in Asia. While public awareness has grown and tiger range country governments have made major commitments, instituted policy reforms, and begun to implement the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), other formidable forces remain at the center of the battle for survival. First and foremost among these threats are poaching and an increasingly sophisticated illegal wildlife trade that targets tigers and other species, including rhinos and elephants.
“The political will generated in St. Petersburg is effecting change on the ground. Over the past year, all the tiger range countries have strengthened wildlife protection laws; increased patrolling teams; conducted intensive training of front line staff; and created or strengthened institutions to address wildlife crime,” announced President of the World Bank Group Robert B. Zoellick, in his address to wildlife conservationists and Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) partners on Monday.
State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural
Zoellick, U.S. Under Secretary of State Robert Hormats, Vice President of the Sustainable Development Network at the World Bank, Rachel Kyte (the link is only accessible through World Bank Intranet), and the Bank’s Executive Director for the Russian Federation, Vadim Grishin, addressed the forum of ambassadors, ministers, and conservation practitioners at the World Bank commemorative event. The goal was to help encourage the foot soldiers and reinvigorate the GTI partnership exactly a year after the Tiger Summit was concluded in St. Petersburg.
While progress was commended, an experts’ panel took up the realities facing conservation practitioners on the ground in tiger range countries, focusing on the increasingly problematic and escalating issue of illegal wildlife trade. Laying the groundwork for the panel, U.S. Under Secretary of State Hormats said, “We’re here today because the poaching and illegal trade in tigers diminishes us all. It undermines our global conservation efforts and threatens the economic and social fabric of local communities. I’m delighted to see the progress that we’ve made thus far, but more needs to be done.”
at the World Bank, spoke of his country’s
anti-poaching and law enforcement efforts
Officials working on wildlife issues from environment and forestry ministries in three tiger range countries, Nepal, Vietnam, and India, joined by video link to speak of their efforts over the last year to fight poaching, engage communities, conduct scientific monitoring, and work in other areas to advance tiger conservation. They also directed questions to President Zoellick, who praised the country efforts and promised continued support from the World Bank and GTI platform.
Zoellick cited a number of areas of cooperation and support, including World Bank and GEF (Global Environment Facility) financing for a regional wildlife project getting underway, the launch of INTERPOL’s Project PREDATOR to scale up intelligence-sharing and communication efforts by police and customs agencies in the TRCs, a new approach to tiger-friendly Smart Green Infrastructure, a Multi-Donor Trust Fund to support tiger conservation, and a pilot Wildlife Premium Market Initiative to channel carbon investment funds under REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) to wildlife conservation.
Government, and World Bank shed light on
‘the scourge of wildlife crime in Asia’
Since its launch in 2008, the Global Tiger Initiative has attempted to redefine the paradigm of development and to mainstream the value of biodiversity, including wildlife, into the center of the development agenda. Much-needed financial resources are gradually becoming available to support the Global Tiger Recovery Program. The World Bank has secured US$100 million of concessional finance for a regional wildlife protection project in six tiger range countries, and the GEF has US$60 million in the pipeline for the tiger conservation landscapes. Non-governmental organizations have also stepped their efforts.
While the GTI partnership appears stronger than ever, the experts’ round table on “The Escalating Scourge of the Illegal Wildlife Trade” tempered the hopeful mood with a major dose of reality. Specialists from USAID, Brookings Institution, World Bank, TRAFFIC, the Smithsonian, and U.S. National Park Service spoke of an increasingly complex and technology-savvy network of criminal traffickers who help feed a strong demand for wildlife products for traditional medicines, fashion, and prestige.
presented two of his tiger pieces to GTI
after the Round Table
Some countries are bucking the trend. Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Krishna Acharya, announced that aggressive measures by law enforcement have frozen poachers of rhinos in their tracks. There have been zero reported poaching incidents of rhinos over an 11 month period. Still, the Round Table discussion posed a number of troubling questions and suggested that trends remain against long-term survival of Asia’s most iconic species.
The first year of the Global Tiger Recovery Program has represented a transition during which the passion and romance of conservation has begun to be translated into interventions to face realities on the ground. A few hurdles have been cleared, but a huge amount of work, fund-raising, and aggressive targeting of priority tiger landscapes will be required to clear a path toward ‘Tx2,’ or the doubling of wild tiger populations.
Constituents and stakeholders in the GTI plan to hold a Ministerial meeting in February 2012 to take stock of first-year progress and strategize on the road ahead.
• 2010 Tiger Census in India indicates increased presence of wild tigers
• Tiger range countries have toughened penalties for poachers and wildlife traffickers
• US$ 70 million of new funds committed to projects directly supporting the GTRP goals, and US$ 90 million more is under preparation.
• Innovative approaches generated by the GTI, including Smart Green Infrastructure and Wildlife Premium Market Initiative, have generated strong interest from Tiger Range Countries, with first pilots already in preparation
• Poaching and wildlife trade are ubiquitous and increasingly sophisticated.
• Infrastructure development is swallowing last wild habitats and encroaching on protected areas at a rapidly increasing pace.
• Demand for wildlife products in a few countries remains very strong.
• Protection of biodiversity is still considered a fringe agenda and not central to sustainable development.
Joy of Nature
Following the Round Table, the GTI hosted a musical celebration of the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit. Concert pianist Karen Joy Davis commemorated the first anniversary of the Tiger Summit in the main atrium at headquarters of the World Bank with a passionate performance. Video images of wildlife and wilderness scenes from tiger landscapes in Asia formed the backdrop as Chopin and Bach filled the air. Ms. Davis made her debut with the National Symphony in Washington, DC when she was 12 and has toured with orchestras throughout the United States, South America and Europe, as well as performing solo. She dedicated the program to the rich biodiversity of Asia.
Transcript of Remarks
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