Sending Office: Honorable Grace Meng
Sent By:
Mark.Olson@mail.house.gov

 

Request for Signature(s)

Support Level Funding for

International Conservation & Combating Wildlife Trafficking Programs

Cut Off Financing to Terrorists & Criminal Syndicates from Wildlife Trafficking

DEADLINE: COB March 13, 2018

*This letter includes three programmatic requests.*

Current List of Signers (46): Beyer Jr., Bordallo, Brownley, Chu, Clarke, Cohen, Connolly, Davis, DeFazio, DeGette, DeSaulnier, Deutch, Ellison, Engel, Espaillat, Esty, Gallego, Garamendi, Green, Grijalva, Hastings, Jayapal, Jeffries, King,
Lee, Levin, Lieu, Lipinski, Lofgren, Lynch, McEachin, McNerney, Nadler, Norton, Payne, Jr., Rice, Sablan, Sánchez, Schakowsky, Schiff, Shea-Porter, Sires, Speier, Titus, Welch, Wilson

Dear Colleague:

We urge you to join us in ensuring that funding is maintained for international conservation by signing the attached letter requesting that the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies (SFOPS) Appropriations Subcommittee provide level funding for
the USAID Biodiversity Program, U.S. State Department and USAID combating wildlife trafficking programs, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in the FY2019 SFOPS Appropriations Bill.

The vital programs encompassed in these three programmatic requests are a significant component of international development and national security.  Wildlife trafficking is a multi-billion dollar transnational organized crime that has attracted the involvement
of the same organized syndicates trafficking in drugs, guns and people and is helping to finance violent extremist groups, including those with ties to terrorism. During a recent ivory bust, the government of Gabon announced: “Organised criminal networks,
some of which are linked to Boko Haram terrorists, are hunting down the forest elephants…”.  Poaching and trafficking are not only pushing vulnerable species toward extinction, but are fueling corruption and weakening the rule of law in countries that rely
heavily on natural resources for economic growth and stability. The illegal timber and seafood trades also rob America of billions of dollars annually by depressing prices and making it harder for law-abiding US businesses and workers to compete.  Investments
in international conservation are combatting these threats to American security and economic prosperity while empowering local communities and building economic stability among our strategic partners.

Most recently, the FY2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act included $265 million for the USAID Biodiversity Program, $90.66 million to combat wildlife trafficking at the U.S. State Department and USAID (of which $50 million was directed to the Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement), and $146 million for the Global Environmental Facility.

The deadline for signing on is COB Tuesday, March13, 2018. To sign the letter, please contact Mark Olson in Rep. Meng’s office at Mark.Olson@mail.house.gov  or Tiffany Howard in Rep.
Donovan’s office at Tiffany.Howard@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely.

Grace Meng                            Daniel M. Donovan, Jr.
Member of Congress               Member of Congress

March 16, 2018

Chairman Hal Rogers
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Room HT-2, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Ranking Member Nita Lowey
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey:

We write in support of maintaining funding in the FY19 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (SFOPS) for the USAID Biodiversity Program, USAID and U.S. State Department programs that combat wildlife trafficking, and the Global
Environment Facility (the GEF), level with the FY17 enacted levels. These investments are helping to support U.S. security and economic interests while combatting transnational organized crime and building economic stability among our strategic partners around
the globe.

The illegal trade in endangered wildlife products, including elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolins, tiger parts, shark fins, and turtle shells, is recognized by the U.S. government as a transnational organized crime that garners an estimated $8-10 billion
annually. Given the high profits and low risks of wildlife trafficking, it has attracted the involvement of the same organized syndicates that traffic drugs, guns and people and violent extremist groups, including those with ties to terrorism. During a recent
ivory bust, the government of Gabon announced: “Organised criminal networks, some of which are linked to Boko Haram terrorists, are hunting down the forest elephants…”   Poaching and trafficking are not only pushing vulnerable species toward extinction,
but are fueling corruption and weakening the rule of law in countries that rely heavily on natural resources for economic growth and stability. In response, Congress passed the END Wildlife Trafficking Act in 2016 to improve federal agencies’ anti-wildlife
trafficking procedures. On February 9, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to include wildlife trafficking in his February 2017 executive order on transnational organized crime.

The illegal trade in timber and seafood is robbing Americans of billions of dollars annually by depressing prices of these goods, which makes it harder for law-abiding U.S. businesses and workers to compete in  global markets. These illegal activities are
also driving deforestation and the collapse of global fish stocks, which are not only vital resources for  developing communities that heavily rely on them, but for the global markets and supply chains that depend on their sustainability.  Federal investments
in international conservation combat  these threats to domestic security and economic prosperity, while empowering local communities and building economic stability and good natural resource management among our strategic partners.

These investments have yielded significant results. U.S. leadership on ending the illegal ivory trade has motivated the governments of China and Hong Kong to take action in shutting down their significant ivory markets, with China’s ivory ban going into
effect in 2018. Illegal ivory markets have also been closed in major cities in Central Africa, such as Goma and Kinshasa. U.S. support for new co-management arrangements in protected areas such as Salonga National Park have led to a reduction in poaching,
new community forestry agreements that devolve control of natural resources to local communities, and an influx of newly leveraged funding from other major donors.

Most recently, the FY17 Consolidated Appropriations Act included $265 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Biodiversity Program, $90.66 million to combat wildlife trafficking at the U.S. State Department and USAID of which $50
million was directed to the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), and $146 million for the Global Environmental Facility. It is important that existing programs and funding be maintained to ensure investments realize significant anti-poaching,
anti-trafficking and demand reduction impacts.  Congress has allocated funding to combat wildlife trafficking in State and Foreign Operations Appropriations since FY14, and we must ensure that agencies continue to receive funding for these important efforts.

 

USAID Biodiversity Programs

Most U.S. foreign assistance for on-the ground conservation is delivered through USAID and its robust portfolio of biodiversity, forestry and marine programs. These help protect some of the largest, most at-risk natural landscapes and the livelihoods of
millions of people who directly depend on them for their survival and economic growth.  These programs work in partnership with foreign governments, civil society, the private sector, and local communities to address direct threats to wildlife loss and the
underlying drivers of species extinction.  While most efforts are focused on biologically significant areas, USAID also strengthens policies, raises public awareness, and tackles global challenges like wildlife trafficking.  These landscapes,seascapes, and
environmental programs include the Central African Regional Program for the Environment, the Andean Amazon, the Brazilian Amazon, Guatemala’s Mayan Biosphere, and the Coral Triangle.  In the process, the Biodiversity Program promotes the livelihoods of millions
of people who directly rely on natural resources for their survival, while strengthening rural peace and stability, democracy-building, health, and environmental security.
For FY19, we request at least FY17 enacted levels for the USAID Biodiversity Conservation programs, including Central African Program for the Environment.

US State Department & US Agency for International Development Combatting Wildlife Trafficking Programs

The U.S. Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking has seen results in anti-poaching, anti-trafficking and reducing demand for illegal wildlife and products.  The Transnational Organized Crime Executive Order was expanded to support counter wildlife trafficking
efforts in 2017.  USAID invested more than $67 million in fiscal year 2015 funds to combat wildlife trafficking.  USAID has invested in projects in countries focused on strengthening anti-poaching and wildlife law enforcement, strengthening judicial systems
and rule of law, disrupting transit hubs, and reducing consumer demand for illegal wildlife products.  According to USAID, an estimated 65 percent of funding has been directed at building the capacity of wildlife law enforcement; 25 percent at community-based
programs to protect wildlife from poaching; and 7 percent at reducing demand for illegal wildlife products in key markets.  Geographically, funding has been split to allocate 66 percent to Africa, 25 percent to Asia with the remainder to Latin and South America.
US State Department of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) has been able to train 1,000 law enforcement and judicial officials leading to 376 arrests and the seizure of 4.4 tons of ivory and rhino horn.
For FY 19, we request at least FY17 enacted levels.

The Global Environment Facility

The Global Environment Facility (the GEF) is an independent international financial institution that provides grants to support sustainable use of natural capital and improved management of natural resources.  With projects in 183 countries, projects unite
donor and recipient countries with U.S. corporations and NGOs.  America’s investment in the GEF also yields a very high rate of return.  Every dollar America invests in the GEF generates another $40 from other countries and partners for GEF and its programs.
The GEF has supported the improved cooperation and governance of one-third of the world’s large marine ecosystems.  The GEF support has also been critical to placing 12 percent of the world’s terrestrial area under protection, resulting in 2,809 protected
areas spanning 1.7 billion acres containing at least 700 globally threatened species.  The GEF has begun funding programs to combat poaching and wildlife trafficking around the world, including supply and demand countries to strengthen national laws, law enforcement,
monitor wildlife populations and reduce demand.  For FY19, we request at least FY17 enacted levels.

U.S. government investments in international conservation protect against wildlife poaching and trafficking while serving as a stabilizing force in fragile regions. We urge the Committee to continue level funding for international conservation and combating
wildlife trafficking programs in the FY19 SFOPS Appropriations Act, and maintain FY17 enacted levels.

Sincerely,

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