There are numerous international organizations in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. However, their programs in the wildlife sector, including hunting, are often running with scarce resources. Most of their work is done in isolation from each other and result frequently in poor public visibility and underutilized knowledge and expertise in many fora.
These arguments were among the deliberations when the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in the autumn of 2011 invited selected international organizations and convention secretariats with a program or keen interest in wildlife management to establish a Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management.
After a range of consultations the Partnership was established in March 2013. One of the motives for CIC to launch this idea was to bring together organizations, although not all like-minded, to jointly and constructively discuss and promote sustainability in wildlife management, including hunting.
Forests as a model: There is a history behind the creation. One part of the idea was to make best use of the successful example of the corresponding forestry partnership, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (see http://www.cpfweb.org/en/ ). This partnership consists of fourteen members, five of which are UN Conventions or their Secretariat, all with a strong interest in forestry. The mission of the partnership is to promote sustainable management of all types of forests and to strengthen long-term political commitment to this end. Since its establishment in 2000 it has become clear, that by joining forces these organizations have managed to fulfill their mandates at the global level better and also to raise the visibility of the sector.
The first steps: After preliminary discussions within the CIC and with some future core members, the CIC General Assembly in Cape Town in 2012 requested the CIC President to actively seek partners and pursue the process of establishing a global voluntary platform entitled “Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management”. The IUCN World Conservation Congress, held in Jeju, Republic of Korea in September 2012 fully supported the establishment of such a collaborative partnership on wildlife. The final step was taken by the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) at its 11th meeting in Hyderabad.
The Conference requested its Executive Secretary to liaise with relevant organizations with a view to facilitating the early establishment of such a collaborative partnership. Potential members discussed options for moving forward on the establishment of the Partnership in a follow-up meeting. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) offered to host the Secretariat for the Partnership so as to provide the technical and operational support required for its establishment and functioning. Participants agreed that the CBD Secretariat and FAO should co-convene a first meeting of the Partnership in early 2013. That first meeting was co-convened by the CBD Secretariat and FAO on 10 March 2013 in Bangkok, in the margins of the Conference of Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The nature and tasks of the Partnership: The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management is a voluntary cooperation of international organizations with substantive mandates and programs for the sustainable use and conservation of wildlife resources. Hence, it is intended to be a global arrangement, a community of professionals and decision makers advocating sustainable wildlife management for the benefit of people and nature conservation. However, in addition to the global collaboration, the national level actions are crucial for reaching sustainable, lasting results in improving wildlife management.
The mission agreed upon by the partnership and found on the web-site (below) of the Partnership, is to promote conservation through the sustainable management of terrestrial vertebrate wildlife in all biomes and geographic areas and to increase cooperation and coordination on sustainable wildlife management issues among its members and partners.
The Partnership intends to carry out its mission through a range of activities. Facilitating communication and sharing of information on policies, programs and activities among members and other parties is one of the core tasks. Also, promoting debate, increasing understanding and identifying and filling knowledge gaps on critical wildlife management issues are important. Further, the plan is to undertake joint initiatives and collaborative activities.
The Partnership strives to contribute to the streamlining and harmonization of wildlife use and management-related reporting to international organizations and instruments. Similarly it will foster, under the leadership of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations a common understanding of wildlife-related terms and definitions. Also, it aims at facilitating the work of parties to wildlife-related environmental conventions by providing advice and producing joint statements and papers on relevant issues to the international wildlife policy dialogue. Cross-sectoral cooperation at all levels is underlined. As an overall activity the Partnership intends to serve as a clearinghouse for sustainable wildlife management.
Plans for the future: The Partnership is still in a start-up phase after two meetings. However, several proposals for how to go forward are agreed upon. The work plan sets out four thematic priorities under which specific activities will be carried out:
1. Wildlife, food security and livelihoods; producing knowledge and back-up support for members and countries to address bush meat and other issues related to wildlife, food security and sustainable livelihoods.
2. Human-Wildlife-Conflict, resulting in improved understanding of the direct and underlying causes of human-wildlife-conflict in the different regions of the world
3. Poaching, including concerted efforts to support development of strategies, policies, and management systems that contribute to legal and sustainable hunting; incl. support efforts to combat poaching and other forms of illegal hunting.
4. Coordination of the partnership and outreach, including building understanding and conveying common messages on issues of global relevance related to sustainable wildlife management.
Concluding remark: International collaboration, including on sustainable use of natural resources is a long-term issue that requires time and patience. However, in order to influence on decisions affecting directly and indirectly wildlife management and hunting, we have to be engaged in the preparations for a range of intergovernmental and international meetings at all levels. In this respect the Partnership as a very well received forum offers a totally new opportunity for CIC and its constituency to be among the main players in this field. The next meeting will be held in Milan, linked to the General Assembly of the CIC.
Note: Jan Heino is the President of the Policy and Law Division of the CIC. From 2006 to 2010 Heino worked as Assistant Director-General and Head of the Forestry Department of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Before that he had several positions in Finnish forestry. Presently he is chairing forestry negotiations in Europe, aiming at a Legally Binding Agreement.
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