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The Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade (SAMM-IWT) was attended by representative ministers from all ten member states of ASEAN alongside the ASEAN Secretariat. The opening ceremony for this meeting was officially held on March 21, 2019. The goal of this meeting was to provide a venue for fellow ASEAN Member States to discuss and exchange knowledge, experiences, intelligence, and best practices among each other to achieve the ASEAN goals of collective efforts in combatting illegal wildlife trade. This meeting was held during Thailand’s ASEAN chairmanship as an effort to help strengthen regional cooperation between neighboring ASEAN Member States in combatting illegal wildlife trade. It provided the venue for all ten ASEAN countries’ ministries responsible for illegal wildlife trade to discuss cooperative opportunities among each other as well as with the ASEAN Secretariat and participating parties like intergovernmental organizations such as CITES, UNODC, IUCN and INTERPOL

As a venue, this meeting was perceived as a prime place for the exchanges of exchange knowledge, experiences and intelligence to develop the best practices in achieving ASEAN’s goal of cooperatively combatting against illegal wildlife trade. This meeting also helped to emphasize Thailand’s role in tackling this on-going problem as the country that pushed to the categorization of illegal wildlife trade as a new type of organized crime under ASEAN Cooperative Frameworks and as lead country of the working group on illegal wildlife trade.

The meeting was divided into two parts.

The first part of the meeting took place on March 21, 2019 with delegates from all of the ASEAN Member States participating. The morning session consisted of the consideration and adoption of Statement of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for CITES and Wildlife Enforcement on Illegal Wildlife Trade, and the Joint Press Statement of the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Illegal Wildlife Trade. To accompany the meeting, there were also side events hosted by participating NGOs from within and outside of Thailand, wherein they hosted joint meetings for participants to brainstorm opinions and ideas in finding ways for cooperative actions in supporting ASEAN Member States. The meeting then continued during the afternoon with a technical seminar on the various tools and innovations which are being utilized to support the on-going implementations against illegal wildlife trade. Alongside this, there was also exhibition spaces where the government and private sectors were encouraged to present their achievements in combatting illegal wildlife trade while also receiving feedbacks, proposals, and encouragement from meeting participants to continue combatting against illegal wildlife trade. 

The second part of the meeting is a field excursion on March 22, 2019 where participants are invited to tour the National Elephant Institute which is under the care of the Forest Industry Organization in Lampang province. The institute will hope to present the various aspects and impact of elephants in Thai culture, with an emphasis on the current successes of Thailand in the management and regulation of domestic elephant ivory.

In conclusion, we believe that this meeting will contribute to creating a legal and sustainable balance between conservation and trade in ASEAN in accordance to Thailand’s Chairman theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”.

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Bangkok, Thaland, January 25, 2019 – This week Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) hosted the ASEAN-wide “Special Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement” as part of the ASEAN’s commitment to step up its fight against organized poaching and trafficking of wild animals and plants that threatens the biodiversity of Southeast Asia.

The Special Meeting convened in preparation for a Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) to Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) scheduled for March 2019 in Chiangmai, Thailand. The meeting discussed strengthening and streamlining intra-ASEAN forestry, wildlife and CITES and program integration, signifying the evolving ASEAN response to wildlife enforcement protection.

The meeting aims to strengthen ASEAN cooperation and advance efforts to combat illegal wildlife trade, and will provide an opportunity for ASEAN Member States to enhance collaboration and law enforcement actions.

Thailand’s leadership in 2019 will highlight ASEAN efforts against wildlife trafficking through a strong statement at the Special Ministerial Meeting. The statement calls on ASEAN Members States and partners to further enhance cooperation in addressing on illegal trade in wildlife in ASEAN, in particular consolidating mandates, strategy and resources of the ASEAN Working Group on CITES and Wildlife Enforcement (AWG CITES WE) and the ASEAN SOMTC Working Group on Illicit Trafficking of Wildlife and Timber (SOMTC WG ITWT).

AWG Chairman and Lao PDR’s Deputy Director General of the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI) Mr. Thongpan said, “This progress demonstrates ASEAN member countries' commitment and collaboration to mutually fight the illegal wildlife trade that is robbing our region of irreplaceable flora and fauna”.

Deputy Permanent Secretary of MONRE Pongboon Pongtong said, "As wildlife crime knows no national boundaries, we must all work together -- nationally, regionally, and globally -- to disrupt criminal networks that are damaging the earth’s biodiversity.”.

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To provide updates on projects and NGOs working to combat wildlife trafficking as well as to share new tools and developments that others can learn from. It will also provide a networking opportunity for NGOs and government delegates and Closing remark by Dr.Wijarn Simachaya, Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

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On September 13, 2017 Opening Remark for the 4th Regional dialogue on Combating Trafficking of Wild Fauna and Flora by General Surasak Kanchanarat, Ministry of Thailand’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Welcome Remark by Mr.Thanya Netithammakun, Director General of Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Thailand