I understand the strong opinions many people have on this issue. I am pleased that the UK is at the forefront of international efforts to regulate global trade in wild animals, and Ministers and officials regularly raise concerns with other governments and with international authorities.
Ministers are clear that poorly managed and illegal wildlife trade (IWT) poses threats to animal health and welfare, diminishes our biodiversity, undermines governance, and can result in serious public health issues. However, well managed, sustainable trade can contribute to biodiversity conservation and livelihoods, and can help meet the nutritional needs of local and rural communities in developing nations.
The UK Government is fully committed to tackling the environmental drivers of pandemics, including by reversing global biodiversity loss, tackling both unsustainable and illegal wildlife trade, and pressing for significantly higher standards in live animal markets around the world. Ministers continue to consider the many complex issues around the global trade in wildlife, including its relationship to Covid-19 and colleagues and I will support swift policy interventions where these are shown to be effective in mitigating future risk of zoonotic diseases.
I would like to assure you that the Government will continue to address IWT through bilateral discussions and through international partnerships. It is encouraging that through these methods, the UK was able to successfully secure a strong IWT Resolution at last year’s United Nations General Assembly. The UK has also announced a £220 million international biodiversity fund to protect and enhance global biodiversity, £30 million of which will go to tackle IWT.