Commonwealth: Wildlife

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 31st March 2020.

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Photo of Lord Mawson Lord Mawson Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what educational programmes they are supporting in Commonwealth countries to inform local people of any relationship between COVID-19 and other diseases and the trade in wildlife for food; and what steps they are taking to discourage such trade.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for International Development, The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State

The UK recognises that strong health systems are vital to ensuring health security and we support the Commonwealth's ambition to move towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, enabling countries to prevent, detect and respond to global outbreaks like Coronavirus. The origin of the Covid-19 virus is not yet clear, although it has been linked to viruses occurring in animals. The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to regulate global trade in wild animals and my officials regularly raise our concerns with other governments and with international authorities. The Commonwealth secretariat has launched a Commonwealth Coronavirus Response Centre that aims to provide a wealth of information on COVID-19 and educational resources for Commonwealth countries. Separately, the UK has announced £210 million further funding to the international coalition to find a vaccine, bringing the total amount of UK aid spent to fight COVID-19 to £544 million.

The UK is at the forefront of international efforts to raise awareness and promote action to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT). We have continued to address IWT through bilateral discussions and in multilateral partners. Through this work we were able to successfully work with international partners to help secure 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.

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