Nepal: The first Regional Meeting of Focal Persons of SAWEN was held on 4-6 November, 2015 in Kathmandu. The major objectives of the meeting were to discuss on various emerging wildlife crime issues, update on the national initiatives to combat wildlife crime, and to discuss on the institutionalization of SAWEN including early endorsement of the SAWEN Statute from the member countries. All the country focal persons, except from Afghanistan, were present in the meeting.
Inaugurating the meeting, the chief guest of the inaugural session Mr. Madhu Prasad Regmi, Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal, shed light on the threats of highly trans-national and organized wildlife crime to biodiversity conservation in South Asia. He stressed on the need of multi-agency collaboration within a country and at the regional level. Mr. Fanindra Raj Kharel, CEC of SAWEN, emphasized the need for strengthened regional cooperation and collaboration through SAWEN and urged the member countries to have the SAWEN Statute endorsed as soon as possible.
The SAWEN Secretariat updated its activities during the meeting. Highlights included the activities under IDF grant; Trilateral Trans-border Wildlife Interception (TTWI) project; WCD-MIS application piloting; various publications such as bulletins, meeting reports, and annual report; and events such as co-hosting ‘Symposium towards Zero Poaching in South Asia'; Transnational meeting with WCCBs of India and Nepal; and SAWEN's cooperation in INTERPOL Operation (PAWS II).
The meeting reaffirmed the commitment from the focal persons to continue cooperation and collaboration among the member countries to combat wildlife crime which has become one of the greatest threats to the survival of many species in each of the member countries and the region on the whole.
The focal persons agreed to expedite the SAWEN Statue endorsement process from their respective Governments. Some issue on few clauses of the Statue which impeded the endorsement in some member countries were discussed and clarified during the meeting. The focal persons recognized that the Statue endorsement from at least four member countries would add significance to the third meeting of SAWEN to be held in Bangladesh and proposed for February, 2016.
The focal persons also engaged with Project Coordination Unit - National Trust for Nature Conservation (PCU-NTNC) and SAWEN Secretariat team in a brainstorming session to discuss on the institutionalization and smooth running of the Secretariat. The major issues discussed were the early endorsement of SAWEN Statute, exploration of financial resources, communication and information sharing, trans-border cooperation through intelligence sharing, reviewing progress, and enhancing partnerships with regional and international organizations.
The meeting was organized by the SAWEN Secretariat together with Government of Nepal with support from the World Bank and NTNC.