How Emirates took the campaign against illegal wildlife trade to a higher level
The president of Emirates has told an international conference about its highly successful campaign against wildlife trafficking.
As an international push to clamp down on the illegal wildlife trade moved into high gear in March 2015, Emirates executives met in Dubai to settle the details of how the airline could play a significant part.
“Personally, I was not aware of the scale and enormity of the problem that we as humanity face,” Sir Tim Clark, president of Emirates, told The National. “At that meeting I began to realise that companies such as Emirates needed to do a lot more than it had.
“We decided we could leverage the global brand power that Emirates has. We carry 1.5 million people a week and realised we had a perfect opportunity to reach out to those people and make them aware of what was going on.”
Marketing campaigns were conceived, which included emblazoning images of endangered species on Emirates aircraft in support of the global collaboration, United for Wildlife.
Pictures of animals including tigers, lions, gorillas and elephants appeared on A380s. The airline also banned the transport of animal trophies.
Channels on the in-flight entertainment were dedicated to explaining the extent of the illegal wildlife trade and its devastating impact.
“It was important we got the message across and that resonated well,” Mr Clark said. He was speaking at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London, which brought together representatives from more than 80 countries, non-government organisations and business leaders.
The push by Emirates has not focused solely on customers. Local employees, particularly those working in cargo, were also crucial to the campaign.
A company portal was set up allowing workers to leave tipoffs about illegal activity with some anonymity. The compliance unit worked more closely with security staff, who forged stronger links with global peers.
“In that respect we’ve certainly improved our processes, detection and enforcement,” Mr Clark said.
Lord Hague, the former UK foreign minister and the chairman of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce, said: “Emirates is a really clear example of what can be done via communication with staff and customers.”
Emirates is a signatory to the 2016 Buckingham Palace Declaration, which contains 11 commitments to raise standards across the transport industry and focuses on sharing information, staff training, technological improvements and sharing resources with organisations to stop the illegal animal trade.
Also party to the agreement are Dubai Customs and Ports, and Etihad Airways.
“When we get together as a global ecosystem of like-minded businesses we have enormous potential and power to take ourselves into the illegal wildlife trade,” Mr Clark said.
“I remain optimistic that the zero tolerance we signed up to [in 2016] is the way forward. The whole subject is now elevated to a global platform.”
We decided we could leverage the global brand power that Emirates has SIR TIM CLARK President of Emirates airline
Sir Tim Clark said he was shocked by the scale of the illegal wildlife trade and vowed to fight it