Global Internet Giants Gather to Protect Wildlife with Technology

6th March 2019, Beijing, China—the one-year anniversary of the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online (the Coalition) was celebrated in China this week during an event themed under “Protecting Wildlife with Technology”. The Coalition is a ground-breaking partnership of some of the world’s leading online and tech companies, formed in March 2018 and jointly facilitated by TRAFFIC, WWF, and IFAW.

A total of 32 internet companies from China and other countries attended the event alongside representatives from Chinese government agencies including the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA), Anti-smuggling Bureau of the General Administration of China Customs (GACC), National Forest Police Bureau, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, Market Supervision Bureau, and the Fisheries Bureau, as well as the CITES1 Secretary, the Delegation of European Union, embassies of UK and USA, GIZ, academia and NGOs.

The event presented an opportunity to assess the performance and impacts achieved by the Coalition thus far. Participants also discussed how global e-commerce, technology, and social media companies effectively prevent and combat illegal wildlife trade on their channels.

Meanwhile, an additional eight internet companies joined the Coalition to commit to reducing illegal wildlife trade in their platforms by implementing individual action plans.

Wildlife crime ranks among the most serious, dangerous and damaging international organised crimes, along with human trafficking, drugs, and illegal arms sales.

In recent years, illegal wildlife trade has gradually shifted from offline markets to online platforms, facilitating underground transactions. The internet has enabled rapid, convenient, and anonymous wildlife trade, posing considerable challenges to e-commerce companies, social media platforms, and law enforcement agencies.

The goal of the Coalition is to reduce illegal wildlife trade online by 80% by 2020. Since its establishment, member companies have actively assisted law enforcement, explored new technology to detect and eliminate illegal trade information, and participated in multi-agency co-ordination mechanisms. Raising awareness among users of wildlife conservation, sustainable consumption, and the rejection of illegal wildlife products is a crucial component also.

Experiences were shared by both new and old members. Sina Weibo, as a new member, introduced “How to Protect Wildlife by Social Media”—an innovative approach of using online campaigns to reduce demand for ivory products among Chinese consumers, highlighting social media’s advantage in raising public awareness and changing consumer behavior.

During this event, TRAFFIC introduced the key findings from newly publishedWildlife Cybercrime Trends in China: Online Monitoring Results 2017-2018, which indicates the average monthly number of new wildlife product advertisements online has declined by 73% compared to that in 2012-2016.

These findings provide important references for understanding the current nature of wildlife cybercrime in China and helps improve the ability of Internet companies to combat wildlife cybercrime. Further, TRAFFIC together with WWF and IFAW released the Global Wildlife Cybercrime Action Plan, which provides systematic guidance for members’ future work.

We hope the Coalition can fully facilitate member companies to comply with the E-Commerce law, including tightening their management of sellers and users. As always, TRAFFIC will provide expertise and resources to help facilitate the coalition with our partners WWF and IFAW, supporting current and potential members, the government, the public, and other NGOs, in our common goal of biodiversity conservation

Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC International.



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