I understand the concerns surrounding the exploitation of wildlife and the increased risk of future pandemics from the continued exploitation and commodification of wildlife in the global wildlife trade.
Year on year, the habitats of many precious creatures are put in jeopardy, their natural surroundings are encroached on by human activity, and animals are taken to fuel the international trade in wildlife. I am calling on the UK Government to take serious action to end the trade of endangered animals and protect fragile habitats.
The UK Government has said it is considering the many complex issues around the global trade in wildlife – including its relationship to COVID-19 – and will support swift policy interventions where these are shown to be effective in mitigating future risk of zoonotic diseases.
It has pledged to invest over £66 million between 2014 and 2024 on work to directly tackle the illegal wildlife trade in animals and plants, including to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement, ensure effective legal frameworks and develop sustainable alternative livelihoods.
I have written to Boris Johnson to ask him to use the upcoming G20 summit to work with other world leaders towards ending the global wildlife trade. I have posted a copy of this letter below for you to see.
More widely, I support the appointment of an independent Animal Welfare Commissioner with the objective of ensuring that animal welfare standards are always considered as legislation is introduced and as Britain takes part in international bodies, trade deals and obligations. The Commissioner, working alongside Government, would be best suited to assist in the promotion of best practice in animal welfare internationally.