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UNEP Deputy Executive Director Statement at Giants Club Summit and Kenya Ivory Burn

By United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw released the following statement on the occasion of the largest ivory burn in history, taking place in Kenya at the close of the Giants Club Summit.

“My own first encounter with an elephant was a carcass. I didn't know then, but it was possibly one of the last elephants in Mauritania. It taught me that extinction is not about the dinosaurs of the past or the watch-lists for tomorrow: extinction is already happening, has already happened, in my own lifetime, before my eyes.

“What has been made eminently clear at the Giants Club Summit is that efforts to tackle this crisis are increasingly backed by a growing public, political and private sector force for change, and that we, as an international community, are prepared to face these challenges with an unprecedented level of commitment, dedication and passion. It will take nothing less to end this crisis.

“We must also remember that wildlife has more value alive than dead and that wildlife can generate sustainable revenues to fund the education, healthcare and infrastructure that will lift people out of poverty and drive economic growth. By reconciling social, economic and environmental interests, Africa can harness its natural heritage to help deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Later this month, a One UN Global Coalition campaign that aims to raise awareness and reduce demand for these illegal products will be launched. The Wild for Life Campaign, which will be launched next month at the United Nations Environment Assembly here in Kenya, unites a range of UN agencies, partners and UN Goodwill Ambassadors. I hope all of you will join me in making pledges of personal action in the lead up to World Environment Day on 5 June, which will be hosted in Angola.”