6 May 2013

South Africa and Vietnam Sign Biodiversity Conservation and Protection Implementation Plan

press release

The Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi and the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Ha Cong Tuan, today signed an action plan to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Biodiversity Conservation and Protection signed by the two countries in Hanoi, Vietnam, in December 2012.

The Implementation Plan, effective until 2017, gives further impetus to the fight against wildlife crimes, particularly rhino poaching. The Plan is reviewable during, and at the end, of the said period.

It is the direct result of cooperation and continued negotiations following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa and the Minister of Agricultural and Rural Development of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Dr Cao Duc Phat in Vietnam.

The objective of the MoU is to promote cooperation in the field of biodiversity management, conservation and protection. It is also expected to assist in curbing the scourge of rhino poaching because the MoU seeks to promote cooperation in law enforcement, compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other relevant legislation and Conventions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

The signing today of the Action Plan is the culmination of intensive negotiations and discussions between the two governments. It aims to put into operation the agreements defined in the signed MoU.

The Action Plan is particularly aimed at reinforcing efforts that would assist in addressing rhino poaching. It also promotes cooperation in law enforcement, compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other relevant legislation and Conventions on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Put into action is the development of joint legislative efforts to conserve biodiversity, to build capacity and promote participation of international organisations and non-governmental organisations in the process.

Priority areas of cooperation include:

Biodiversity management, conservation and protection

Compliance with CITES and other relevant internationally binding Conventions

Forestry and biodiversity law enforcement and compliance with domestic frameworks and applicable conventions

Strengthening the cooperation on the above through exchange of information, best practice and research

Technology use, transfer and development

Natural resource management, wildlife trade, protected areas management, community development, sustainable livelihoods

Other areas mutually agreed by both Parties.

The agreement confirms that cooperation will include not only the exchange of relevant information and documentation on biodiversity conservation and protection, law enforcement and compliance, including exchanging visits and holding joints workshops attended by scientists, experts, policy makers, regulators, law enforcers and other concerned parties. It also endorses the undertaking of collaborative projects to improve on the conservation of biodiversity and protection of species.

In addition, the two countries will, in the next six months, share information on each country's legislation in regards to the management of sport hunting for trophies of rhino and other wildlife with the aim of improving the management of imports of hunted specimens to Vietnam.

It is hoped this will serve as an added measure to dealing with the smuggling of rhino horn and related specimens into Vietnam. A review is also to be undertaken of existing measures and initiatives for fostering biodiversity management, conservation and protection so that these could be updated.

Awareness and education campaigns on biodiversity management, compliance with international regulations and legislation, forestry, skills development, sustainable utilization and the improvement of livelihoods while conserving the environment, and related matters will also be conducted to ensure wildlife-related crimes are reduced.

With regard to compliance with international Conventions, such as CITES, an effort is to be made to ensure each country's legislation in regards to CITES compliance and enforcement, as well as initiatives and measures to improve CITES enforcement measures, are shared and put in place.

This includes CITES permitting; a requirement that Vietnam supply South Africa with a list of all registered hunters in the country as they would be the only persons allowed to hunt legally in South Africa; and joint verification of hunting applications as well as the import and export of hunting trophies and related specimens.

This measure has been introduced as an additional tool to prevent a recurrence of pseudo-hunting. The Parties will exchange information related to the status of law enforcement in the two countries, the lessons learnt during the process and best practices that could be implemented to deal with wildlife crimes and biodiversity management.

The two countries will share experiences on a regular basis, resulting in recommendations to enhance biodiversity management, conservation and protection. Capacity building and the sharing or transfer of skills with regard to issues such as the further development of wildlife monitoring systems, including the creation of a gene bank and training courses in wildlife forensic analysis, DNA sample techniques and other techniques to combat wildlife crime form part of the Plan.

In addition, cooperation with regard to sustainable utilisation and biosprospecting in terms of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their utilization is to be strengthened to ensure the protection and development of sustainable livelihoods.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise

Cell: 083 490 2871

Peter Mbelengwa

Spokesperson for the Deputy Minister

Cell: 082 611 8197

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs

6 May 2013

Issued by: Department of Environmental Affairs

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