Representatives of Greater Mekong Sub-region-GMS- namely Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand met in Oudomxay, a northern province of Laos, in late August to discuss efforts against illegal wildlife trade.
The objective of the meeting was also to identify critical border hotspots and issues, address challenges and needs and develop action points to support the development of a transboundary strategy and recommendations among participating governments and organizations to tackle illegal wildlife trade.
The meeting was also attended by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Lien Thikeo, Deputy Country Director of the World Fund for Nature (WWF) Laos Francois Guegan, Vice Oudomxay Governor Somchit Panyasak and representatives from non-government partners, Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, Bokeo and Phongsaly provinces.
The workshop also aimed to revisit international, regional, bilateral and country commitments made by governments to combat illegal wildlife trade, increase understanding of latest trends and issues on wildlife crime and trafficking in the region as well as on critical issues concerning elephants, tigers, pangolins, bears and rhinoceros.
It also aimed to increase awareness and knowledge of experiences, lessons, best practices, and innovations on illegal wildlife trade in the areas of law enforcement, policy reform and judiciary processes, technology and innovative practices, cross-border collaboration, public outreach, demand reduction, community and NGOs engagement.
Laos has been a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) for more than a decade and created policy to implement commitments made to solve challenges related to illegal trade, said Mr Lien Thikeo.
In 2005, the Lao government approved Forestry Strategy 2020, a key framework for sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation, with an aim to increase forest cover to 70 per cent by 2020.