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ICCWC toolkit to combat Nigeria forest crime

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By Abiodun Okunloye

UNODC initiative will help the country fight its high environmental damage rate.

To reduce wildlife and forest crime, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has launched an assessment of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) in Nigeria. On Tuesday, the UNODC Country Representative attended the launch of the ICCWC Toolkit innovation in Abuja, along with the Minister of Environment, Head of the UNODC Global Programme on Crimes that Impact the Environment, and representatives from the UK, US, Germany and others. UNODC country representative Oliver Stope stated during the ceremony that Nigeria’s ecological deterioration is alarming, and the country has one of the highest deforestation rates in the globe, losing 141kha of primary humid forest, about 14% of its trees, between 2002 and 2023.

The livelihoods of the surrounding populations as well as the species in those woods, are in danger due to overly aggressive, unsustainable, and generally illegal exploitation. He claimed that in addition to the ongoing loss of their habitat, professional poachers and small-scale hunters also pose a threat to wildlife. He contends that the organized illicit trade in animal and forest products passing through Nigerian ports is also a threat. Stope added that the Nigerian government and the international community noticed all of the issues, pointing out that the 2018 CITES banning on foreign commerce of Nigerian rosewood is among the most significant measures taken on a global scale.

More measures are needed to curb forest crime in the nation.

Furthermore, the Nigerian government has taken a number of steps, particularly since 2020, to oppose this trend. Essential initiatives include enacting the first National Strategy to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime, the latest formation of the Wildlife Enforcement Task Force, and current efforts to examine the legal system and increase the criminal justice system’s capability to address wildlife and forest crime. He added that the efforts are starting to pay off, especially in terms of the capacity of the country’s law enforcement to confiscate wildlife and forest resources acquired through illegal trading.

Although these initiatives have been implemented, they have yet to stop Nigeria from becoming a regional centre for the illegal trade in wildlife and forest resources. Another unexplored potential opportunity is global cooperation with both the point of entry nations. As it stands, wildlife and forest crime are still widely seen as a low-risk, high-reward black market. He pointed out that a much more complete examination is necessary to give the government and its global partners the information they need to comprehend and fix the most critical flaws.

One million species are in danger of extinction, and more later.

Minister of the Environment Mohammed H. Abdullahi also spoke at the occasion, noting that the toolkit is a comprehensive resource for advancing Nigeria’s primary objectives and goals and an international agreement for the environment. He went on to say that this measure will significantly contribute to reversing the country’s downward trend. An estimated one million species are in danger of extinction, and many of them will be over the next several decades, according to the 2019 Global Assessment Report of the landmark Inter-Governmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Also, the warning that IPBES issued has enhanced both the political will and the collaborative initiatives being implemented right now. He lauded the efforts of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime to work together through its five intergovernmental organizations to improve criminal justice systems and to offer coordinated assistance on the national, regional, and international levels to combat wildlife as well as forest crime. In light of this, he praised the partner organizations for working together to assist Nigeria in putting a stop to wildlife crime.

20 nations have used the toolkit for wildlife and forest crime assessment.

Moreover, Stope affirmed that UNODC is excited to participate in the official launch of the ICCWC Toolkit Assessment. They do this in conjunction with the other countries who are all supporting the current efforts in Nigeria and with other stakeholders in the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, which includes the CITES Secretariat, the World Customs Organization, INTERPOL and the World Bank. He also noted that 20 nations had used this toolkit to assess the efficacy of their national preventative and criminal justice approaches to wildlife and forest crime.

Related Link

ICCWC: Website

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