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First Line of Defence: engaging communities in tackling illegal wildlife trade

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The London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT), held in October last year – along with a multitude of other international and regional policy forums and proclamations on IWT - emphasised the important role of local communities in tackling IWT . Princes, politicians and pop stars all talked about the importance of communities and governments from a wide range of countries have made numerous commitments to supporting community engagement as part of their efforts to tackling IWT . Despite this, the major focus of anti-IWT strategies to date has been, and remains, on law enforcement. One problem is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to community engagement and a limited evidence base on effective approaches. In this presentation I will discuss the rationale for community engagement, the commitments that have been made, and the limited progress that has been made against those commitments. I will then present some initiatives that IIED has been involved in to enhance community engagement and some of the lessons learned from those efforts. One of these is a “Theory of Change” framework for engaging communities that IUCN and IIED have tested in community conservancies in Kenya. Another is a project in Uganda where we are working to build the capacity of the wildlife authority to engage communities living around the edges of national parks. Finally I will present some perspectives from community representatives themselves, on how best to tackle IWT and the support they need to do so.

This talk is part of the CCI Conservation Seminars series.

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