Countering Transnational Wildlife Trafficking in Southeast Asia and China

The USAID Reducing Demand for Wildlife project is combatting transnational environmental crime by addressing both the supply and demand for illegal wildlife parts and wildlife products.

In light of the enormous and ever-changing impacts of COVID-19 and climate change, as well as substantial changes in the context of countering wildlife crime that occurred over the course of the last five years, USAID RDW’s approach is as adaptable as it is strategic and methodical. Acutely aware of the impact of social, cultural, and gender norms within this space, the project will identify mechanisms for greater engagement of civil society and marginalized groups, in addition to measuring the effectiveness of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) campaign messaging on consumer behaviorWith the goal of promoting both an inclusive and a sustainable regional movement, the work to combat wildlife trafficking and promote biodiversity prioritizes gender balance and social inclusion across all aspects of implementation, promoting female leadership whenever possible.

Reducing Wildlife Demand through Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Campaigns

Given the demonstrated success of evidence-based SBCC campaigns, the project will focus on magnifying and expanding SBCC campaign reach. It will also work to promote SBCC as a key approach to change attitudes, social norms, and purchase intent surrounding wildlife parts and products serving as a cornerstone of CWT. To support others engaged in these efforts, USAID RDW captures and disseminates lessons learned by sharing research, data, and conclusions to inform national and regional counterparts and decision-makers, as well as pursuing opportunities for synergy and joint action.

In addition to continuing existing SBCC campaigns, the project will develop and test new campaigns for travelers who are intent on buying illegal wildlife products in other countries. The project will establish and apply messages and principles for maximizing the potential for these campaign techniques to reduce demand for wild meat and wildlife products, thereby also curbing a significant pathway for exposure to zoonotic pathogens and spillover. 

Developing Best Practices for Countering Wildlife Trafficking

Using the wealth of data collected under USAID Wildlife Asia, USAID RDW continues to develop and solidify best practices and tools for CWT practitioners to adopt. The activity incorporates digital technology to precisely target campaign audiences and monitor campaign impact. Understanding the importance of private sector buy-in for maximized campaign reach and influence, the project actively engages partners in media, tourism, and other crucial sectors throughout implementation. Building on a strong foundation of respect and established relationships, USAID RDW continues to engage a wide range of stakeholders at all stages of SBCC campaign implementation, with the goal of strengthening CWT cooperation and collaboration across all sectors and levels of society.

Reducing Wildlife Supply through Rational, Comprehensive Regulatory and Enforcement Systems

A top priority of this project is working collaboratively to meet shared development goals—chiefly, that of promoting a more resilient, inclusive, and secure Southeast Asia. In the interest of strengthening regional institutions, the biodiversity protection project facilitates collaboration between non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector, partnering with local institutions, supporting bilateral missions, and elevating local leadership in wildlife and environmental law enforcement. Private sector partnerships are crucial to maximize impacts by leveraging expertise, assets, technologies, networks, and resources. By integrating private sector support to counter wildlife trafficking, the project will increase third party commitment to reducing demand for endangered and illegal wildlife, thereby maximizing the results, continuity, and sustainability of the work.

Understanding the importance of government cooperation, the project seeks out opportunities to support and convene policymakers, legislators, enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges to review the region’s wildlife regulatory and enforcement systems. This work will primarily be done through regional bodies, such as the working groups of the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), ASEANAPOL, the Asian Judges Network for the Environment, and other judicial bodies. In this way, the project provides a bridge between existing policy, legislative, and enforcement frameworks across multiple countries, and supports regional leadership in developing plans and priorities, as well as setting a precedent for sharing lessons learned surrounding CWT. [Originally published here:]