IATA releases airport assessment tool to help cut illegal trafficking of wildlife shipments
Emirates A380 in United for Wildlife livery
Thu 17 Nov 2016 – In partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO), IATA has developed and launched an Airport Wildlife Trafficking Assessment Tool to help airports in the fight against the illegal transportation of endangered species. The tool will enable airports to assess their supply-chain security, intelligence and risk management, staff awareness, and reporting processes, alongside air cargo and passenger screening policy and procedures. A pilot initiative is due to start this month at Maputo International Airport in Mozambique, with a global roll-out planned to follow next year. In March, IATA and 26 of its member airlines signed a declaration at Buckingham Palace in London committing to take action in closing vulnerabilities in the global transportation and customs system (see article).
“Actors in the air transport sector can serve as the eyes and ears of enforcement agencies and can be valuable partners in the efforts to eliminate wildlife trafficking from supply chains,” said Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “The Assessment Tool will enable them to identify weak points in procedures and practices, often exploited by traffickers, as well as ways of strengthening them.”
The assessment tool is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has brought together a range of governmental, industry and conservation organisations under the Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership. The aim of the initiative is to disrupt wildlife trafficking activities and is a key element in the international response to countering wildlife poaching and associated criminal activities. Funded by USAID, it was established in 2015 with a five-year mandate to assist the transport sector in efforts to reduce trafficking via land, sea and air.
Also in 2015, IATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding at its AGM in Miami with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to cooperate with the UN agency on reducing illegal trade in wildlife and their products, as well as on ensuring the safe and secure transport of legally traded wildlife. IATA members followed this up at this year’s AGM in Dublin by endorsing a resolution denouncing the illegal wildlife trade and called for preventative action by airlines, airports and freight forwarders. The resolution also called on IATA members to sign the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration. The United for Wildlife campaign is led by The Duke of Cambridge.
“The illegal trafficking of wildlife products, including many iconic and endangered species, is an issue which the aviation industry takes very seriously. It will take a team effort to combat this deplorable trade,” said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac. “We are working in close partnership with USAID Routes, WCO, CITES and other organisations to make the world a much more difficult place for wildlife traffickers. Our common goal is to preserve our precious wildlife inheritance for future generations to enjoy.”
IATA believes new technology such as e-documentation, online check-in and automated baggage drops could also play a role.
“These technologies can help government authorities to build accurate risk assessments of travellers and cargo shipments. Whether it is combatting terrorism, stopping the illegal drug trade or putting an end to wildlife trafficking, governments must share information among themselves and with industry. We share a common goal and we must work together to achieve it,” said de Juniac.
The launch of the assessment tool was made during a meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, of government ministers from around the world to discuss ways to eradicate wildlife trafficking. The UK government, which supported the conference, announced it would work with Vietnamese border force authorities in helping airports and national airlines stop smugglers trafficking illegal goods out of the country.