African Elephant Summit: Botswana, 3-5 December 2013
September 10, 2013 – Due to unavoidable circumstances, it will not be possible to hold the African Elephant Summit in Tanzania this year. IUCN’s obligation to its Members under WCC-2012-Res-025 is to urgently hold a high-level meeting on the African elephant to ensure that decisive commitments are obtained to halt the deteriorating situation for the African elephant. With that in mind, and cognizant of other initiatives and processes taking place in 2014, the African Elephant Summit will now be held in Botswana from 3-5 December. IUCN is very grateful to the Government of Botswana for agreeing to host this important event and thanks the Government of Tanzania for its commitment to the importance of holding the Summit and looks forward to their significant participation in the Summit and its outcomes.
Elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade are a major concern across Africa and beyond, with serious security (particularly in Central Africa); economic; political and ecological ramifications as these crimes increase in frequency and severity and expand into previously secure elephant populations. Criminal gangs and militias are using sophisticated military ware to kill elephants and take advantage of high-level corruption to move ivory across borders and off the continent. In some cases, the proceeds from illegal killing of elephants and the illegal ivory trade are used by criminal networks to undermine democratic rule in African states and to fund armed militias and rebel groups engaged in internal and cross border conflicts.
Elephants are an iconic species, whose well-documented ecological role in natural landscapes contributes to healthy ecosystems, supporting the water, energy and agricultural sectors in many African countries. As major tourist attractions, illegal killing of elephants reduces the ability of many African countries to harness ever-growing tourism business opportunities.
Governments at all points along the illegal ivory value chain, including African elephant range States, ivory transit States, and the States that are the major consumers of ivory, have expressed willingness to cooperate to address the current situation for African elephants.
IUCN is working to ensure synergies with a variety of meetings and initiatives on wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade, and expect that a focus on African elephants will benefit broader efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade.
IUCN is aware that other initiatives are aiming to address various aspects of the illegal trade in ivory, including the African Elephant Action Plan, Decisions and Resolutions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) and national strategies, amongst others, we are convinced that, given the magnitude of the problem, and the fact that illegal trade is increasingly entrenched in organized crime networks, the African elephant crisis cannot be adequately addressed by the actions of environment ministries and wildlife authorities alone. Rather, government commitment at the highest level is required to secure viable elephant populations across the continent and to halt the illegal ivory trade at all points in the illegal ivory value chain.
Goals, Objectives and Outcomes
To convene a high-level meeting in 2013 to secure commitment at the highest political level to take urgent measures along the illegal ivory value chain, by African elephant range States, ivory transit States, and the States that are the major consumers of ivory, to effectively protect elephants and significantly reduce in the illegal trade in ivory.
More specifically, the Summit seeks to:
• raise awareness at the highest political level about the dimensions of the poaching crisis and the dynamics of the illegal ivory trade;
• commit to urgent actions to be taken to secure viable elephant populations across the continent and to halt the illegal trade;
• seek political, financial, and technical support in implementing these urgent actions.
Outputs from the Summit will include:
An emergency plan outlining commitment to a targeted set of urgent measures by senior government representatives from range, transit and consumer States. This plan will draw on the existing African Elephant Action Plan, national strategies, as well as CITES Decisions and Resolutions emanating from CoP16. These commitments will include:
• Prioritising (urgent and country-specific) activities identified from the African Elephant Action Plan to address the recent upsurge in illegal killing across the range of the African elephant and in the global illegal ivory trade;
• Tackling corrupt networks that support the illegal killing of elephants, and the trafficking of large amounts of illegal ivory currently in traffic;
• Outlining clear timelines for strengthening national policy, legislation, law enforcement and deterrent penalties needed to control the illegal killing of African elephants and the illegal trade and trafficking in their ivory;
• Recognition of the economic damage to communities and States represented by the widespread poaching of elephants;
• Taking concrete steps to address national security risks resulting from the illegal killing of elephants where they exist; and
• Securing increased funding pledges for elephant conservation and management, including law enforcement actions along the illegal ivory value chain.
Context for these discussions will be provided by presentation of reliable technical information from IUCN, government participants and other key stakeholders.
• Heads of State, relevant Ministers and specialised technical staff of all African elephant range countries and all key transit and destination countries in the illegal African elephant ivory trade chain.
• Other institutions, agencies and organizations working on elephant conservation and the illegal ivory trade.
• Other key stakeholders and strategic partners.
Draft event plan
• Day 1 – Key issues and urgent actions (technical experts and government delegates)
• Day 2 – Commitment to urgent measures (Heads of State/high-level delegates)
• Day 3 – Support and implementation of emergency measures (government delegates, implementing partners, and the donor community)
For further information, please contact the Summit Coordinator for IUCN (Diane Skinner –firstname.lastname@example.org).
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