The United Kingdom would like to thank President Ali Bongo Ondimba and Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier for hosting this luncheon to discuss the important issue of the illegal trade in wildlife.
This is an issue that matters to the UK. In February we hosted a major conference of global leaders to help eradicate the trade once and for all, and from this conference came an ambitious political declaration containing 25 commitments to action.
Our commitment to this has not wavered. Reports that elephants and rhinos could be extinct within our lifetimes have strengthened our resolve. We will be supporting Botswana in holding the follow-up Summit due to take place on the next World Wildlife Day - 3rd March 2015.
This will be no talking shop. It will be an opportunity to review progress on the commitments made in London and to take further action. I urge participants to maintain the momentum . It will also be an opportunity to identify gaps where further work is needed and agree next steps including a possible third Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in Asia.
Only coordinated international action will succeed in tackling this crime, and in dealing with the numerous issues that stem from it: from poverty and instability to the funding of terrorist activity.
I would like this coordinated action to achieve even more, to reflect the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in, whether that is a UN Resolution or a Special Representative who can speak out on this issue.
Whilst it is important not to duplicate existing efforts such as those of CITES and the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime, we cannot pretend that this is enough for such a unique and prevalent problem as the illegal wildlife trade.
We need real political commitment by governments around the world, firm resolve and strong action at all levels to tackle this trade. I therefore encourage action now to deliver on the London commitments, and urge high level attendance at the Botswana conference next year.