(2017-03-06)China attaches great importance to protecting wildlife and is committed to advancing the country's wildlife preservation goals, said China's ambassador to the UN in observance of World Wildlife Day.
"Wild fauna and flora — an integral part of the ecosystem — plays a huge role in ecology, genetics, social and economic development, science, and education, and has a direct bearing on the continuity of human civilizations and future development," said Liu Jieyi at the UN headquarters in New York on Friday.
China announced late last year that it will stop commercial processing and sale of ivory tusks and manufactured goods made from ivory by the end of 2017, a move hailed by conservationists.
Liu said that ecological preservation is important not just for biodiversity, but goes in tandem with social and economic development, which he said governments consider when implementing policies.
"All countries should drive economic and social development through ecological development, and encourage green development and green lifestyle, creating job opportunities, eradicating poverty, and improving livelihood will help reduce poaching," he said.
The international community should also combat illicit trafficking by punishing those involved and strengthening law enforcement from production to sales to trafficking, Liu said.
"In particular, illicit online wildlife trade must be cracked down. As the saying goes, no trade, no killing," he said.
International cooperation should also be deepened, with countries not only honoring the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions and their obligations, but also conducting joint efforts to train law enforcement, share information and protect wildlife, he said.
Government agencies, international organizations, and the private sector should be "brought in for enhanced synergy", he said.
The United Nations is observing this year's World Wildlife Day with a call to harness the power of young people's voices in conservation efforts.
Peter Thomson of Fiji, who is president of the UN General Assembly, said that raising global awareness of biodiversity also requires acknowledging that the dramatic decline in global wildlife is largely due to human activity, including population growth, climate change, pollution, poaching and illicit trafficking.
"With illicit trafficking of wildlife generating billions of dollars each year, the proceeds of this transnational crime are fueling armed conflicts and terrorism and posing serious challenges to sustainable development," Thomson said.
World Wildlife Day was established in 2013 at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly after the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It recognizes the importance of biodiversity and invites member states and organizations to raise awareness of wildlife to ensure that international trade does not threaten endangered species' survival.
According to a 2014 World Wildlife Fund report, in the last 40 years about 50 percent of all wildlife has been lost, and more than 16,000 species are considered endangered and threatened by extinction.
African elephant mortality rates surpass their birthrates, and one elephant is killed every 15 minutes. The polar bear population is expected to decline by two-thirds by 2050, the report said.