Global internet companies protect wildlife with technology

Global Internet Companies Protect Wildlife with Technology
Wednesday, 6 March, 2019
Beijing, China

Today, the one-year anniversary of The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online was celebrated by World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) and over 30 global e-commerce, technology and social media companies. 

Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious, dangerous and damaging international organized crimes along with human trafficking, drug running and illegal arms sales. In recent years, the purchase and sales of illegal wildlife products have shifted gradually from the traditional offline arena to online platforms and social media, which can facilitate secret transactions. In addition, the internet’s global connectivity and relative anonymity of users, combined with rapid transport, enable easy online wildlife transactions, posing considerable challenges in monitoring for online technology companies and enforcement agencies. 

In September 2016, 183 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) parties made the commitment to eliminate illegal wildlife trade, and to put online wildlife crime under greater scrutiny at CITES CoP17. China has been strengthening its efforts in protecting wildlife, and is dedicated to enhancing international and inter-organizational collaboration in law enforcement and reducing public demand for illegal wildlife products.

“Illegally trading endangered wildlife online is a new global challenge which require collaborations from State governments, related business and all aspects of society to reduce and eliminate online illegal information in order to comate wildlife cybercrime. The Chinese government commits to develop ecological civilization by following the principle of conservation first and applying multiple measures to conserve endangered wild fauna and flora. Every year national scale law enforcement actions are held to combat criminal activities destructing resources of wild fauna and flora. With the growing of e-commerce, social media platforms, Chinese internet industry has become an important force in combating cybercrime and conserving endangered wildlife in China and even at global scale,” said Wu Zhimin, Director General of the Wildlife Protection Department of National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA).

On 7 March 2018, WWF, IFAW and TRAFFIC in collaboration with 21 internet companies from North America, Asia, and Africa, gathered in San Francisco, and initiated The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online with the aim to reduce wildlife trafficking online. Since then, the total number of companies has grown to well over 30.

Since the establishment of the Coalition, member companies have actively implemented wildlife friendly policies and supported law enforcement efforts, explored new applications to detect and eliminate illegal online information, participated in multi-agency coordination meetings, and enhanced users' awareness of protecting wildlife and refusing to consume illegal wildlife products.

Under the theme “Protecting Wildlife with Technology”, both old and new members shared their efforts and successful cases in combating cybercrime. Sina Weibo, as a new member representative, introduced How to Protect Wildlife by Social Media, shared their experience of creating an innovative online campaign with WWF and IFAW, highlighting social media's advantage in raising public awareness and changing consumer behavior.

The conveners of the Coalition, IFAW, WWF and TRAFFIC highlighted the Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan, which provides a cross-sector road map to detecting and disrupting wildlife cybercrime, and introduced the Internet Enterprise Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). These outline what steps need to be taken by online technology companies, governments, enforcement agencies, academia, and NGO’s in order to build a network that defeats a criminal network.

Guo Lixin, Deputy Secretary General of CWCA, said: "The internet provided new channels for illegal wildlife trade when it brought convenience to people’s life. It is a long-term and arduous mission to completely eradicate wildlife trafficking online. Not only does it require the engagement and support of civil society, but it also requires the constant attention and efforts of internet companies."

“The coalition has set an ambitious, yet bold goal of working to reduce wildlife trafficking online by 80% by 2020. Every effort should be made to support this goal and we need more industry players to join the coalition and thus the fight against wildlife trafficking online. We thus look forward to acknowledging new coalition members, and also to learning how we can collectively ensure that we meet our ambitious goal. One thing is for sure, it is only through partnership and, collective and coordinated action on the part of the coalition, that we will be successful,” said Jason Bell, IFAW’s Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare.

“Since 2014, two conferences in London, one in Botswana and one in Vietnam were held for addressing global illegal wildlife trade. The UN General Assembly and international community express serious concern on this issue. The Coalition facilitate Chinese internet companies to link with other countries’ counterparts and demonstrate how they are delivering their Corporate Social Responsibility. Organizers will support members to continually create and disseminate messages regarding wildlife protection to target audiences in a variety of ways,” said Zhou Fei, Chief Programme Officer of WWF China.

 

Notes to editor:

The following 8 new members joined during the one-year anniversary event: Sina Weibo, Artron.net, Sogou Search, Han Tang Collection, gucn.com, Gui You Tian Xia from China, Kupatana from Tanzania and Sapo from Vietnam. 
 

For more information, please contact:

Lin Azhen, Media & Event Manager, WWF China: azhlin@wwfchina.org

Sabrina Zhang, Communications Manager, IFAW China: qzhang@ifaw.org

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