Abu Dhabi, 7 March 2022 (TDI): The government of the UAE has decided to work with the government of the UK to launch a toolkit to support financial institutions in tackling illicit financial flows in Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT).

UAE Minister of State namely, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, has met with UK Minister, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon to launch the toolkit. Said toolkit was launched at Expo 2020 Dubai to coincide with UN Wildlife Day.

The toolkit provides significant guidance to the institutions ranging from big institutions with substantial compliance teams to smaller institutions with less expertise or less resources for combating illegal wildlife trafficking.

Minister of the State, Ahmed Al Sayegh stated at the launching ceremony that the illegal wildlife trade is an extremely significant aspect of illegitimate financial flows. Mutual collaboration between the public and private sectors is the important way to reduce and address this contemporary global issue.

He expressed his exultation and said that this is why he is delighted because the members of the UAE’s Public-Private Partnership Subcommittee will support the IWT toolkit. This will be a significant step forward in combating the illegal wildlife trade.

Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, UK Minister of State for South and Central Asia stated that he is happy to launch the UK-led IWT Financial Flows Toolkit in conjunction with the UAE Government, TRAFFIC, WWF, and Themis.

The toolkit has been built on the historic partnership agreement between the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates on the lines to combat illegal financial flows, as well as to replicate the cooperation between their public and private sectors to counter financial crimes.

Therefore together, both states can expedite against the organized crime gangs who plunder and harm their animals. The illegal wildlife trade costs up to USD 23 billion per year, which is the fourth-largest organized crime after drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting.

Wildlife trafficking not only destroys endangered species but destabilizes ecosystems also. It also promotes corruption and diminishes livelihoods across the world. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), poachers kill approximately 20,000 African elephants each year.

On the other hand, rhino poaching has exponentially been rising since 2007 with the average death rate of approximately 100 rhinos per month. In recent years, the UAE and its international partners have advocated for tougher penalties for those involved in the illegal wildlife trade and promote prompt coordination through each state’s financial sector.

Strong foundation against the proponents that harm economies and the environment may be established in contour of public-private partnerships by the states by employing the information sharing, global cooperation for detecting and addressing the illicit money flows.

The toolkit came into being with a focus on Africa to Asia route which denotes the importance of public-private sector cooperation in the global financial centers.  In this cooperation, UAE, Hong Kong, and Singapore are included to combat this trade. The IWT Financial Flows Toolkit has been translated into Arabic and Mandarin by the UAE Government and TRAFFIC’s China office. It can be accessed at https://crime.financial/iwt.