Fourth EC Meeting and Workshop of SAWEN concluded

The SAWEN Secretariat in collaboration with Government of India organized the Fourth Executive Meeting (EC) Meeting and Workshop on 'Strengthening Institutional Capacity of SAWEN' on 8-10 May 2018 in Kolkata, India. The program was initially planned to organize in Kabul, Afghanistan on 29-31 January 2018 in collaboration with National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of Afghanistan. However, considering the unfortunate incident happened in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Secretariat decided to change the venue in Kolkata, India in consultation with Afghanistan and other member countries. The financial support was through Institutional Development Fund of the World Bank.

The workshop was scheduled for 8-10 May and the Fourth EC Meeting was on second half of 10 May 2018. The workshop was commenced with an inauguration program. Inaugurating the workshop, the Chief Guest Mr. Man Mohan Singh Negi, Additional Director General of Forest, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, India emphasized on close collaboration among the member countries in order to combat wildlife crime in South Asia. Mr. Ravi Kant Sinha, PCCF (wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden, Government of West Bengal, highlighted on local level issues on wildlife conservation and wildlife crime control; and expectation from regional organization like SAWEN. Chairperson of the inaugural session, Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, Chief Enforcement Coordinator, SAWEN and Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Nepal, underlined the broader spectrum of wildlife crime which has deep rooted existence since long. Recognizing the joint efforts with cooperation and collaboration can only lead to accomplish the objectives of SAWEN, he further called for all the stakeholders to support SAWEN in curbing wildlife crime in South Asia and beyond. Ms. Tilotama Varma, SAWEN Focal Person of India and Additional Director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India, welcomed all the delegates, representatives from partner organization, media and others participated in the program.

The three day workshop was aimed to finalize the six reports produced for SAWEN by the expert consultants. The six reports were presented in the workshop by the experts and received the feedback from the participants.

Coinciding with the workshop, a ' Collaboration meeting with partners' was organized to interact with representatives of partners, participated in the workshop. The major objective of the session was to explore the potential collaboration prospects with partner organizations in coming days. Through this session, SAWEN received commitments to work jointly in different sectors including capacity buildings.

The Workshop was concluded with brief closing session. The Chief Guest of closing program was Mr. Siddhanta Das, DG and special Secretary of Forests, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, India. Speaking in the program, he recognized the efforts made by the member countries in combating wildlife crime through collaboration and cooperation and also requested for continuation of such noble effort for the benefit of global biodiversity and ecosystem. Chair of the session, Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, CEC of SAWEN, invited all the partners for joining the hands to make SAWEN activities more effective and expressed firm commitment in the fight against wildlife crime in South Asia. Expressing the vote of thanks, Ms. Tilotama Varma, SAWEN Focal Person of India extended sincere thanks to all the participants on behalf of organizers.

In the program, more than 50 officials including Focal Persons; delegates from the SAWEN member countries; and representatives from INTERPOL, CITES, UNODC, USFWS, GTF, WWF, ZSL, TRAFFIC, ICIMOD, WCS India, WEMS, USAID, US Embassy, US State Department, and National Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal were participated.

The Fourth EC Meeting of SAWEN was held on 10 May 2018 in Kolkata, India in participation of Focal persons, representative of focal person, CEC and observers. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka, CEC of SAWEN. During the first part of the meeting, previous decisions made by the Third EC meeting of SAWEN held on 11 September 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal were reviewed. In addition, the meeting discussed on extending the partnership with similar organizations, sharing of information and review of six task reports produced for SAWEN by the expert consultants.

The program brought attention to all the concerned stakeholders in curbing the wildlife crime through joint efforts. Commitment by the member countries and partners were reflected in the program. SAWEN Focal Persons, government delegates and participants acknowledged the ownership and support provided by the member countries. The program has created a platform to discuss on inter-agency collaboration with similar organizations and offer the support to each other. Assurance from the partner agencies to support SAWEN is another encouraging outcome of the program. Areas of support include capacity building to law enforcement agencies of different sectors; wildlife crime database and its analysis; and organize joint programs.