New Partnerships Continue to Shape GTI
Coalition for tiger recovery broadens as first recovery program implementation report launches
June 26, 2012 – Washington, DC – Four years after the launch of the Global Tiger Initiative, the partnership has taken firm root in the thirteen tiger range country governments and begun to attract interest from outside the traditional conservation community. The World Bank signed two new agreements at GTI’s 4th Anniversary event, Global Tiger Initiative – Outcomes and Challenges, one with the Confederation of Indian Industry to connect the Indian business community with biodiversity and conservation-friendly practices, and another with Clemson University to advance the “Open Parks Grid” in tiger range countries in support of managers and practitioners in national parks and protected areas.
The signing of the new agreements with the Confederation of Indian Industry opens the door to creating wildlife business councils across the world where CEOs and leaders of industry and business communities will advocate for biodiversity-friendly business practices and the importance of protecting sensitive and critical habitats for wildlife. The Open Parks Grid collaboration provides new and advanced GPS, GIS, and other cyber-infrastructure tools to address threats to wildlife and habitat across the tiger range countries, as well as another tool to build capacity among practitioners and others on the front lines of conservation.
President Robert B. Zoellick of the World Bank, in the last week of his term, pointed the way forward for the GTI, the international initiative he spearheaded and launched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 2008. “At last, there are some glimmers of hope for the tiger and the biodiversity it represents… the Global Tiger Initiative has emerged as a new business and policy model for how governments and the conservation community can work together with the World Bank Group to be able to conserve biodiversity,” he said in remarks at the World Bank, where an audience of ministers, ambassadors, leaders of major conservation organizations, and senior Bank management were in attendance.
Speaker after speaker noted that the initiative has grown beyond being only about the tiger, and has consolidated political support after the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg in 2010 endorsed the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP). Dr. John Seidensticker, a senior advisor to GTI and Head of the Conservation Ecology Center at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute, said, “Before the Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg, status quo tiger conservation was isolated intervention by individuals and organizations in government departments that had too few resources and they didn’t have any strong supporting political will. But with the Global Tiger Recovery Program, we see resurgence in political support from the highest levels of government – and this is what tigers need.”
Two prominent champions of tiger conservation, Hasan Mahmud, Minister of Environment and Forests in Bangladesh, and Pema Gyamtsho, Minister for Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan, each spoke of the progress of their respective countries toward implementation of the GTRP and the ultimate goal of “Tx2,” or doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. The Minister from Bhutan suggested, “…there will be no room for negotiations on the survival of this iconic species.” Under Secretary of the United States Robert Hormats and Vietnam’s Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen also took the stage to summarize progress and point forward to the next major milestones and challenges.
Progress on the main technical elements of the Global Tiger Recovery Program is summarized in a report launched at the June 26 event, the Global Tiger Recovery Program – Implementation Report. It includes country by-country self-assessments and a report card across the several thematic focus points in tiger conservation, including habitat protection, combating wildlife crime, transboundary collaboration, capacity-building, and scientific monitoring among others.
Some of GTI’s stalwart partners also joined, as leaders from the Smithsonian Institution, World Wildlife Fund, and International Fund for Animal Welfare all spoke of new hope for the tiger, and praised the tiger range countries and Bank leadership. Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US, called for a redoubled commitment to “zero poaching” and Secretary Wayne Clough of the Smithsonian spoke of high expectations for the “consensus-driven problem-solving approach of the GTI.”
The Implementation Report drew many of its conclusions from a recent stocktaking conference held in New Delhi. The progress toward achieving priority implementation activities of the tiger recovery program was reported as impressive, and mobilization of financial resources has picked up steam in recent months, but the collective assessment published in the report also noted that “a conservative and cautious assessment of trends in tiger numbers indicates ‘no change’ in the total number of wild tigers” since the endorsement of the program in St. Petersburg.
While some countries are reporting progress, it may be some time before empirical data can be said to support a conclusion that we have turned the corner in saving this species from extinction. And the numerous innovative pilots introduced by GTI, such as principles of Smart Green Infrastructure, the Wildlife Premium initiative, International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime, and new smart wildlife law enforcement monitoring, are all just in introductory phases. The intense interest and attendance across a variety of sectors suggest the 12-year Global Tiger Recovery Program is on a sustainable path and continues to hold great promise, and not for tigers alone.
Transcripts of each speaker’s remarks
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