Combating Wildlife Trafficking - Cross-Mission Learning Agenda
USAID has a long history of support for biodiversity conservation, including programs that help park authorities and rural communities reduce poaching and consumption of wildlife, usually as part of broader investments in protected area management or community-based natural resource management. Wildlife trafficking, defined as illegal hunting, transport and commerce of wildlife and wildlife products, is now prioritized for action by USAID due to a dramatic increase in the volume and scope of the threat in recent years, a 2014 Executive Order on Combating Wildlife Trafficking (and associated National Strategy and Interagency Task Force), and the 2016 Eliminate, Neutralize and Disrupt (END) Wildlife Trafficking Act. As missions begin or ramp up new programs, there is an important opportunity for cross-mission collaboration to capitalize on previous experiences, share the latest information, and spread innovative ideas across missions.
USAID highlights 10 common strategic approaches used to combat wildlife crime in its Measuring Efforts to Combat Wildlife Crime toolkit. The Collaborative Learning Group elected to focus learning efforts on theories of change for strategic approaches #1, #2, and #7 from the toolkit,1 defined as:
1. Reduce Consumer Demand through Behavior Change Methodologies: The use of social marketing and other methodologies to raise awareness and change the behaviors of target audiences, especially consumer choices and reporting of illegal products and markets.
2. Build Capacity for Effective Enforcement and Prosecution: The provision of financial or technical assistance to improve the capacity of governments and agencies to enforce wildlife laws and prosecute wildlife criminals.
7. Increase Community Conservation Action and Support to Combat Poaching and Trafficking: Efforts to build community support and action to decrease poaching and illegal activity.
These strategic approaches are currently applied by USAID in a number of countries. To date, little information has been collected in a systematic way to be able to test key assumptions regarding the effectiveness of these approaches. Given their growing application within the USAID portfolio, there is an important need and opportunity to build the evidence base regarding the effectiveness of these approaches across USAID mission programming.