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Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, is calling on the UK Government – in the week that the UK hosts the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Conference  – to announce new legislation and funding to tackle the global illegal wildlife trade.

Bright Blue is calling for the UK Government to prioritise global leadership on the environment as part of its post-Brexit foreign policy. It is advocating two specific policies for the UK Government to adopt to help eradicate the illegal wildlife trade:

  • New legislation should be introduced which enables the Government to freeze UK-based assets of foreign citizens suspected of supporting the IWT, wildlife crime, and other forms of gross species and habitat destruction. The Magnitsky Act in the USA allows the US to sanction individuals implicated in gross human rights abuses, and the UK passed its own version – through a ‘Magnitsky Clause’ in the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 – in May. The IWT Conference would be the ideal time to announce a version of this legislation for the IWT.
  • At the very least, £1 billion per annum of additional funding through UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) should be made available from 2020 to be spent on global nature conservation, rising to at least 10% of UK ODA by 2025. Amongst other things, the additional money should be spent on: establishing and managing nature parks in ODA recipient Commonwealth countries (£200 million per annum), protecting several critical corridors used by iconic mammal, bird, and marine species (£200 million per annum), and scaling up the Darwin Initiative (£100 million per annum).

Commenting, Ben Caldecott, Senior Associate Fellow at Bright Blue, said:

    “The UK government has shown impressive leadership in seeking to tackle the illegal wildlife trade and wildlife crime. We still can and must do much more. An illegal wildlife trade version of the Magnitsky Act would allow the sanction of individuals implicated in wildlife crime anywhere in the world.”
    “This new power would help to rein in this pernicious trade, one that contributes disproportionately to the destruction of our natural world, while harming good governance in developing countries and supporting criminal activity and terrorism. People and organisations perpetrating these acts should have nowhere to hide.”
    “In addition, the Government should allocate at least £1 billion of new money per year from 2020 for global nature through a new Global Conservation Fund paid for through the UK international aid budget. This should rise to at least 10% of the development budget by 2025.”
    “While the Department for International Development (DfID) is a world leader in poverty alleviation and humanitarian assistance, we urgently need to extend these huge achievements to sustainable development through environmental protection and the support of biodiversity and habitats. This can also generate much needed public support for the aid budget.”