Before more exploitation of the natural world is proposed as a way to solve rural poverty in developing countries, we need to interrogate the nature of corrupt and damaging financial relationships between these countries and the wealthy north. The wildlife trade needs to top the list.
For many years, pro-trade groups have been lobbying to further liberalise the trade in flora and fauna. And that trade is enormous. According to a report from the European Parliament, the wildlife trade is one of the most lucrative enterprises in the world.
Legal trade into the EU alone is worth 100-billion euros a year and is controlled by the CITES permitting system. The problem is that it's simply not working -- it's paper-based, inefficient and wide open to corruption.
The first step would be to implement the global e-permit system which the organisation has been talking about for a decade. It would not be cheap but it is vital. And the funds are there. A World Bank Report highlighted that nearly US$200-million was spent promoting sustainable use and alternative livelihoods, but nothing was allocated to solve the longstanding problems in the legal trade system.
There's more to the problem than permits, however. Those...