Today’s conference in Brussels has highlighted the importance of behavioural science in reducing demand for illegally traded exotic pets and wildlife products.
Organised by the European Commission, the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the event discussed the enforcement challenges and opportunities of the EU Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking.
2021 EU CITES-related seizure data showed consistently high illegal trade for plant-derived ingredients, live reptiles and birds destined for the pet trade.
Melanie Heath, Senior Director of Global Programme Office, said: “Wild species imported illegally for use and as pets is an issue that needs addressing within EU borders. Behaviour change initiatives can play a pivotal role both in terms of curbing illegal trade, and promoting sustainable, safe and legal trade, complementing EU commitments to the Convention of Biological Diversity’s Framework’s goal to reduce biodiversity loss by 2030.”
Sarah Baker Ferguson, TRAFFIC’s Nature Crimes Convergence Lead, discussed approaches to behavioural change, a cornerstone of TRAFFIC’s 2030 Strategy. A panel discussion session provided insight into the organisation’s unique knowledge in addressing the primary objective of Priority 1 in the revised EU Action Plan.
This includes the CITES Guidance on Demand Reduction, which outlines a Five-Step Framework for behavioural change and 10 Benchmarks for behavioural change.
Ferguson said: “As a key consumer, transit and source market, the EU must give particular attention to implementing this Guidance to support social and behaviour change, with a specific focus on European consumers.”
TRAFFIC believes that effectively combatting wildlife trafficking requires a multifaceted approach, which involves investigating poachers and shaping consumer groups’ attitudes and social norms.
Next month, TRAFFIC will support CITES Parties’ implementation of the Guidance by providing capacity building around it to governmental and organisation counterparts from across the Asian continent.