Minister Molewa to address United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) high level thematic discussion on global observance of World Wildlife Day, 03 March

02 March 2017


The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, will tomorrow, 3 March 2017, join Environment Ministers from across the globe at a United Nations General Assembly High Level thematic discussion in celebration of World Wildlife Day 2017.

On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance for wildlife. 

World Wildlife Day is being celebrated today under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices.”

During the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES in Johannesburg in 2016 (CITES COP17), the conference adopted the first CITES resolution on ‘Youth Engagement’, calling for greater engagement, mobilisation and empowerment of youth in conservation.The Youth Forum for People and Wildlife was also held during COP17, where South Africa’s Youth and Conservation Programme was launched.

Minister Molewa says: “This development marked a significant leap towards a new world of inclusivity and the amplification of youth voices. We therefore remain resolute that, though debate marred with practical beneficial activities, the youth of the world can shape their destiny.”

Minister Molewa says that young people have a responsibility to act as change agents to ensure that plants and animals are conserved. 

“The celebration of World Wildlife Day under the theme: “Listen to the young voices” speaks equally to the present and future; not only the future of the youth, but the future of our wildlife,”  says Minister Molewa.

History has proven that conservation has to be about the protection and the sustainable use of plants and animals for their survival whilst ensuring the benefits to the present and future generations.  The Minister emphasises that the nexus between nature, human development and economic growth compels the global community to rethink its approach to conservation, trade and development.

“The choice of the theme “Listen to the young voices” hastens the need for inclusive approaches to safeguard the survival of wildlife species, thus ensuring the future of humanity,”  Minister Molewa says.

Referring to the global challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, the Minister says it is unfortunate that “young people bear the brunt both in the present and the future”.

“We must therefore adopt a “youth lens” in our approaches, particularly in the interventions to promote conservation and the fight against illegal wildlife trade.”  

Within the ambit of the Biodiversity Economy, South Africa has adopted a path that ensures transformation, economic growth and ecological suitability. This approach facilitates amongst others, the socio-economic upliftment of rural communities through conservation and meaningful ownership of natural resources.  It also inculcates a sense of identity and value attachment, mobilises local people, the youth and nations to meaningful conservation action.

Minister Molewa points out that the participation of the youth and local communities in conservation in the fight against wildlife crime forms an integral part of South Africa’s Integrated Strategic Management Approach to manage rhino and address rhino poaching.

Key to this approach are sustainability interventions  that include compulsory interventions that focus on enforcement; rhino population management  aimed at growing our populations; community development, demand management and interventions aimed at disrupting syndicates. All of these are implemented in the context of regional and international cooperation. The integrated approach, involving various government institutions working in unison with the private sector, local communities and civil society are bearing fruits, as such is evidenced by the latest comparative decline in rhino poached. 

“We will continue with our collaborative implementation of curbing illegal wildlife trade and therefore events such as this ensure that the challenges relating to illegal wildlife trade are profiled at a global stage. This event further harnesses the momentum, thus ensuring the timely implementation of the various resolutions relating to wildlife management,” says Minister Molewa.

The Minister congratulates those short-listed in the CITES World Wildlife Day 2017 photo competition held under the theme “Through young eyes”.    The participation of young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the competition illustrates the talent that the youth can offer. “We believe that through continued engagement  of the youth at global, regional and local levels, the future of conservation is guaranteed.” 

To access the finalist’s entries to the competition, click on:

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Albi Modise
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