World Wildlife Day: Involving communities in sustainable management

UN Environment, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Institute on Environment and Development (IIED), today launched a report proposing more action and stronger community voice on approaches to involve indigenous peoples and local communities in the fight against wildlife crime, including the illegal wildlife trade.


’Wildlife, Wild livelihoods’ outlines eight actions points to improve the community-based approach, ranging from better incentives and developing a better understanding of local customs and traditions, to involving local leaders in decision-making.

“Local communities are on the front line and have the most to lose from the illegal wildlife trade,” Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment said. “We have to engage local communities at every level to protect our most precious natural assets against people seeking to make a profit from wildlife crimes.”

It further outlines the opportunities and constraints for communities to participate in the various key international policy forums that influence wildlife management, and takes a critical look at the increasingly militarized and top-down approach to combat illegal wildlife trade.

“Relying on top-down approaches to wildlife management is not working,” said Rosie Cooney, Chair of IUCN SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group. “We must listen to the voices of local people and avoid marginalizing local communities to ensure our conservation work is effective and sustainable. It is local communities that personally bear the costs of human wildlife conflict. Their engagement is key to protecting people and wildlife alike.”

Dilys Roe, Principal researcher and Head of Biodiversity at IIED and joint author, said: “For too long, those in the best position to preserve wildlife ― local people ― have been left out of key decision-making and missed out on crucial benefits. It is vital policies that foster and recognise communities’ rights and needs are adopted in partnership and implemented. Africa’s wildlife will have a more hopeful future when governments start supporting local people and listening to them. Then they can help protect the wildlife we all treasure.”

The recommendations outlined in the report, and hands-on ways of increasing opportunities for indigenous peoples and local communities to participate in promoting more effective and equitable wildlife conservation strategies will also be at the center of the first meeting of a Working Group of CITES on Rural Communities, taking place in Nairobi, Kenya this week.

The report comes on the eve of World Wildlife Day, observed annually on March 3rd. This year, celebrated under the theme “Big cats: predators under threat”, will highlight the many and varied threats – mostly caused by human activity – for the world’s most magnificent predators.

About UN Environment

UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world.

About the International Union for Conservation of Nature

IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its more than 1,300 Member organisations and the input of more than 10,000 experts. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

About the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

IIED is a policy and action research organisation. It promotes sustainable development to improve livelihoods and protect the environments on which these livelihoods are built. IIED specialises in linking local priorities to global challenges. Based in London, UK it works in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific, with some of the world’s most vulnerable people. We work with them to strengthen their voice in the decision-making arenas that affect them — from village councils to international conventions. For more information please see

About World Wildlife Day:

To celebrate the magnificent array of our world’s flora and fauna, and to raise awareness of the constant threat that our wildlife is under, the UN General Assembly proclaimed March 3rd UN – the day of the adoption of CITES – World Wildlife Day. The day has been celebrated annually since 2014.

The theme of this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Big cats – predators under threat.”


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