G20 Leaders' Declaration: pledge to stop pandemics but no mention of global wildlife trade

25/11/2020

G20 global leaders, including Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, Emmanuel Macron, and Boris Johnson, met for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Saudi Arabia November 21-22. Despite more than 1 million of you calling for an end to the cruel, dangerous global wildlife trade which caused COVID-19, there was no clear agreement to end it

"G20 global leaders have shown that they are listening, but they need to go further to demonstrate that they’re taking the threat of future pandemics seriously."

The G20, made up of 19 countries and the EU, has pledged to ensure that pandemics like COVID-19 never happen again by committing to "advancing global pandemic preparedness, prevention, detection, and response" and they acknowledge “the need for long-term solutions to address gaps in global pandemic preparedness and response". 

The agreement by G20 leaders is a partial first step towards reducing the risk of future diseases and pandemics of wildlife origin. 

However, it falls short of the urgent action needed to end the global wildlife trade – which increases the risk of disease transmission from wild animals to humans due to exploitation and the cruel, unacceptable conditions wild animals are often forced to exist in.

A pangolin in a cage.

Image credit: Arief Budi Kusuma / shutterstock.com

No mention of the cause of coronavirus 

We are dismayed that the leaders did not address wildlife trade, even though the G20 Agriculture Ministers recently acknowledged the need to assess the link between the wildlife trade and pandemics. 

The Leaders’ Declaration also acknowledges the importance of “safeguarding our planet and building a more environmentally sustainable and inclusive future for all people”, and encourages more sustainable practices in tourism, which "safeguard the planet".

But it is vital that global leaders start tackling the root causes of pandemics and commit to curbing the global commercial trade in wild animals for meat, traditional medicine, exotic pets, trinkets, and entertainment.

A macaque at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia. Credit Line: World Animal Protection / Aaron Gekoski

The fight is not over 

Our petition has been signed by nearly 53,000 Canadians and by more than 1 million supporters around the world so far, and we're still counting. Our campaign, supported by world-leading wildlife experts including Dame Jane Goodall and Canadian advocates Jann Arden and Buffy Sainte-Marie, has shown that there is huge public support for banning the commercial global wildlife trade. Forever.

G20 global leaders have shown that they are listening, but they need to go further to demonstrate that they’re taking the threat of future pandemics seriously. 

All eyes on Italy 

Italy is hosting the G20 Leaders’ Summit in 2021, so we’re now looking to the Italian Presidency to acknowledge that human and animal health are inextricably linked, and to ensure that the G20 take the crucial next steps to make a global wildlife trade ban a reality in 2021. We will continue to work with the G20 to hold them accountable to their promise to prevent future pandemics, reminding them of the need to establish a global wildlife trade ban.

Canadian MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith accepting Canadian petition signatures from our Campaign Director Melissa Matlow

Canadian MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith accepting Canadian petition signatures from our Campaign Director Melissa Matlow

Our work in Canada

Here in Canada, we have connected with more than 40 Members of Parliament, Senators and senior government staff on the risks of the wildlife trade to animal health and welfare, human health and our environment. Last week, Toronto MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith accepted our petitions signed by 52,762 Canadians and shared with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). We have no doubt that the support we are receiving for our campaign through petition signatures and letters to MPs is helping us increase awareness and support among Canadian parliamentarians.

As we continue to receive interest and support for addressing this problem and curbing the trade, we will push for action from the Canadian government, starting with a commitment to change direction. The global commercial wildlife trade is growing at an alarming rate and putting our lives, economy, and biodiversity at risk. At the same time, we will continue to put pressure on provincial governments and businesses to do their part in curbing the wildlife trade. Stay tuned for updates!

Together, we can end the wildlife trade. Forever. 

Petition: End the wildlife trade

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