Advocating to protect vulnerable species and their habitats in law and policies
At IFAW, when we talk about secure habitats for the places animals call home, we mean more than just security on the ground. Unless animals and their habitats are protected in law and policies, we cannot be sure these places will stay secure over time. It is for this reason that IFAW engages so actively in advocacy work both nationally and internationally.
We have long participated in the workings of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Whaling Commission (IWC) and other intergovernmental agreements and institutions with environmental and animal welfare aspects. We send representatives to meetings of these MEAs to ensure that their decisions are in the best interests of the world’s wildlife.
Our involvement in MEAs and other relevant international forums, and the partnerships our participation builds with governments and institutions around the globe, has established IFAW as a trusted source of information. We are able to give policy recommendations based on science and our experience on the ground, thus enabling our wider programme staff to work with governments around the world to create further support for animals in need.
IFAW’s policy and science expertise are highly regarded and this means we can help achieve positive outcomes for conservation and animal welfare at these forums, speaking up for animals when issues of trade and other human priorities can sometimes threaten to drown out their cause. This vital advocacy work doesn’t stop between meetings but takes place year-round; from working with governments to provide the information and arguments needed to ensure these victories for wildlife, to assisting with practical implementation of conservation measures once they are passed.
The results achieved at these meetings are tangible. At the last CITES Conference of the Parties (CoP18) held in Geneva, Switzerland in August 2019, IFAW campaigned successfully for giraffes to be awarded protection from unregulated international trade for the very first time, for a total ban on commercial international trade in otters taken from the wild and for trade in a record 18 species of endangered sharks and rays to be regulated. At CMS CoP13 in Gujarat, India in February 2020 governments agreed greater cooperation across international borders to increase protection for three of our most vulnerable migratory wild species; the Asian elephant, jaguar and oceanic whitetip shark.
Decisions taken at these meetings can mean global protection for species and rein in overexploitation and habitat destruction. IFAW’s global approach, ensuring that international agreements support our conservation efforts on the ground, means that animals are protected — no matter where their home is.