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Civil society groups call for zero tolerance of wildlife crime

Update: May, 28/2016 - 09:29

HÀ NỘI — Leaders from across major sections of Vietnamese civil society are taking on a new role in a nation-wide campaign to promote zero tolerance of wildlife crime through consumer behaviour change.

At a workshop in Hà Nội on Tuesday, four prominent civil society organisations (CSOs), with guidance from local communications experts and government agencies, including the Central Committee for Propaganda and Education and the National Center for Health Communication and Education, agreed to begin to disseminate new, highly-targeted messages to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products in Việt Nam.

The workshop, organised by TRAFFIC (the wildlife trade monitoring network) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), aimed to support TRAFFIC’s consumer behaviour change programme to reduce demand for rhino horns in Việt Nam.

The programme’s messages are tailored using consumer research and feedback to address the specific motivations for using rhino horn among identified consumer groups.

Today’s meeting, funded by the Agence Française de Développement, co-operated with the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), the Việt Nam Ecommerce Association, the Center for Women and Development, and the Việt Nam Automobile Transportation Association to develop wildlife protection messages and action plans for corporate partners.

The specially designed messages will be integrated into their codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility policies and widely shared with their business partners and staff.

“Illegal wildlife trade is a significant threat to bio-diversity conservation in Việt Nam and in the region,” Phạm Thị Thu Hằng, general secretary of the VCCI, said.

“As CSOs responsible for supporting businesses, the organisations present today and others like us can encourage businesses to demonstrate CSR by integrating wildlife protection into their business policies, which will help these businesses avoid risks, create competitive advantages and, in the long term, achieve sustainable development.”

With its economy continuing to grow, Việt Nam faces a changing set of development challenges, like increasing threats to the environment.

“Rising levels of income in Việt Nam have led to a trend of conspicuous consumption of ‘high status’ goods, including rhino horn,” Madelon Willemsen, head of TRAFFIC’s Việt Nam office, said.

“This increased demand for illegal wildlife products is causing immediate and lasting damage to local and global biodiversity.

“Only through the combined efforts of the Government, civil society and the private sector can we reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products that drives wildlife crime.”

The workshop provided an example of how this collaboration could work, as CSOs and government agencies shared their expertise to develop effective behaviour-change messages and action plans that will ensure the zero tolerance of wildlife crime permeates through all levels of society. – VNS


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