Remarks by Ambassador Arun K. Singh during the Signing Ceremony of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Government of India and Government of the United States to enhance co-operation on Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking
June 2, 2016
Under Secretary Novelli,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to expand India-U.S. cooperation to yet another important dimension --- of wildlife conservation and combating wildlife trafficking.
With our strategic partnership, dialogue mechanisms and specific areas of engagement, our cooperation now touches virtually everything in the realm of human endeavour. Today, we can take genuine pride in claiming that these endeavours no longer only benefit the human race, but also those that complement us in the living universe.
Both our countries and our societies have traditionally prized wildlife. India was one of the earliest countries to adopt legislation to make wildlife conservation a national priority, much before environmentalism became a global buzzword.
India and the U.S. are both active parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) for transboundary conservation efforts for migratory species and International Whaling Commission (IWC).
Both India and the United States of America are endowed with rich biodiversity and natural heritage. India has 7 World Natural Heritage sites.
Both our countries have established a network of Protected Areas. The U.S. National Parks have been a role model through the world, including for us in India. Our first National Park was established way back in 1936, and India now has 166 such parks and sanctuaries. In 2014, UNESCO established the world's first Category 2 Centre dealing with natural heritage in Dehradun to strengthen implementation of the World Heritage Convention in Asia and the Pacific Region.
All of these reflect our strength and record in wildlife conservation. However, with growing demographic and economic pressure, loss of habitat for our wildlife is a challenge that we acutely face. Also, in this day and age, nothing done in isolation can be successful --- particularly when national boundaries are often crossed, be it due to effect of international trade in wildlife product or migration of wild species.
Between India and the U.S., there is a lot to learn from each other on management and conservation best practices, capacity-building, awareness campaign and law enforcement that contribute to improved environmental health in both our countries. Similarly, there is a desire to cooperate with each other to deny space to poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products.
The MOU to be signed today will provide an institutional basis for such cooperation.
I am happy that this MOU is being signed on the eve of our Prime Minister's Official Working Visit to the U.S. next week. Our Prime Minister is a champion of the cause of environment, clean energy and sustainable development, as you would have seen in our very crucial role in ensuring success of the Paris Convention of the UNFCCC last year or in the ambitious renewable energy goals that India has committed to. Naturally, wildlife conservation is a vital part of our overall agenda. It was during Prime Minister's first visit to the U.S. in September 2014 that leaders of the two countries stressed the importance of conserving the world's precious biodiversity and agreed to explore opportunities for collaboration on national parks and wildlife conservation. With this MOU, we are embarking on those very activities which are high on the priority of the two governments and for millions of our citizens.
I look forward to a full and vigorous implementation of the MOU by our two sides.