The critical need for a strong global effort is demonstrated by the fact that the illegal wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative transnational crimes and estimated by the United Nations to be worth up to $23 billion USD annually.
The Buckingham Palace Declaration is a historic agreement which sets out tangible steps that can be taken to close the routes exploited by traffickers of the illegal wildlife trade as they attempt to smuggle their products from rare and vulnerable ecosystems.
Hong Kong International Airport, Munich International Airport, Sydney Airport, and Toronto Pearson International Airport join more than 100 transport sector companies who have confirmed their support for the initiative since 2016.
“ACI and its members are dedicated to promoting the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade by airports and I welcome the commitment of Hong Kong, Munich, Sydney, and Toronto in joining the fight,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Wildlife trafficking has become a multi-million-dollar business and. as the world becomes more interconnected, poachers are looking to abuse the air transport system to move illegal wildlife goods. Airports continue to be central to stamping out this trade.”
The Buckingham Palace Declaration contains eleven commitments to raise standards across the transportation industry and focuses on information sharing, staff training, technological improvements, and resource-sharing with its international stakeholders.
Airport Authority Hong Kong Executive Director of Airport Operations Vivian Cheung said: “Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) adopts zero tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trafficking and we are honoured to be a signing party of the Buckingham Palace Declaration. At HKIA, we work closely with the whole airport community to fight illegal wildlife trade, while efforts to raise public awareness continue through publicity means such as posters and model displays.”
Munich Airport Chief Executive Officer Dr Michael Kerkloh said: “At Munich Airport we have worked closely with the authorities for many years, using state-of-the-art technologies, to combat the unlawful transport of endangered plant and animal species. Consequently, we are fully committed to supporting all efforts to impede the activities of international traffickers and promote the legal protection of endangered species.”
Sydney Airport Chief Operating Officer Hugh Wehby said: “Australia’s unique wildlife is often a target of illegal wildlife trafficking, which makes Sydney Airport especially proud to support this important initiative.”
Greater Toronto Airports Authority Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Kim Stangeby said: “Illegal wildlife trafficking threatens the existence of many of the world’s species. Since airports play a major role in facilitating cargo, it’s important for us to work collaboratively to tackle this issue. Signing the declaration will help to harmonize our action against trafficking.”
In addition to supporting airport membership to share their commitment by joining the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, Airports Council International is a key industry partner working with the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership to engage and support industry, improve data analytics, increase collaboration with enforcement, provide training and raise awareness on the issue.