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26 Mar, 2019

The 5th Executive Committee Meeting of SAWEN has commenced proceedings from today in Male, Maldives from March 26, 2019. The function was inaugurated by Dr Abdulla Naseer, Minister of State for Environment in the presence of senior government officials from Maldives together with the SAWEN focal persons.

Dr Naseer emphasized on the growing importance of close collaboration between the neighbouring countries to reduce wildlife crime. Stating that although wildlife crime in particular was not a major issue in his own home country, coral management was becoming increasingly worrisome, the cause of which can be linked to inadequate inter-agencies coordination within the Maldives. On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Maldives Dr Naseer assured full support for strengthening the role of SAWEN for combatting wildlife-related crimes.

Wildlife crime is among the greatest threats against species survival today, only second after habitat destruction. With increasing globalization and a lucrative market for wildlife parts, traffickers operate through highly sophisticated transnational criminal syndicates often exploiting weak enforcement and regulatory loopholes, as well as luring the poor conditions of marginalized people.

The meeting was chaired by the Chief Enforcement Officer of SAWEN Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, who is also the Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation of Nepal. At the closing remarks of the inaugural event, Mr. Khadka emphasised about the institution's full commitment to bring down the market chain for wildlife products to secure a better future, reminding the delegation about the devastating consequences if the situation prevailed otherwise. Calling on all the SAWEN member countries to continue to strengthen each of their related countries' laws and to rigorously develop enforcement mechanisms to disrupt potential criminality, the Chief Enforcement Officer highlighted the need for maximizing cross-border coordination by harmonizing national laws and policies between each of the member countries.

The ongoing meeting is being held to mainly review and address wildlife crime issues concerning each of the member countries, besides taking on other important matters about SAWEN's strategy and plans for the near future; about: Plans for opening of membership to other potential wildlife institutions; functionalizing the ‘Operational Framework of SAWEN’; its participation in the CITES CoP18 2019 wildlife conference in Colombo; and about the soon to held ministerial meeting of SAWEN member countries.

Participants at the meeting included high-level representatives from Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Dr Siddhartha Bajra Bajracharya, Executive Director is representing the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC). NTNC has been working closely with the SAWEN Secretariat right from its inception, and it continues to support in the development of SAWEN, both in a technical and financial capacity.