World Bank raises pitch for saving Tigers

Singapore: Business leaders from Singapore, India, Indonesia and Malaysia joined World Bank Group President, Robert B. Zoellick, and members of the Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) to brainstorm new strategies for saving wild tigers from extinction and address threats to biodiversity in the region.

With only 3,200 wild tigers left in all of Asia, the meeting of CEOs and regional heads of finance, infrastructure, and transport companies and education groups marks the first in a series to be held throughout the region to bolster support for endangered wild tigers and promote the need to preserve their habitats – with the health of tigers seen as a reflection of the health of surrounding plants and animals.

“Tigers are an iconic species and to think that this species could be eliminated within our lifetime is a terrible tragedy,” Zoellick said.

“Supporting tiger conservation is part of the global development challenge and with the pace of development in the Asia Pacific region, enlisting the support of business and industry fills in the missing piece in the campaign to protect tigers and strengthen biodiversity conservation across the region.”

World Bank Group together with partners such as the Global Environment Facility and the Smithsonian Institution set up the Global Tiger Initiative in 2008- could act as a connector in linking industry with environment groups and other agencies seeking to protect tigers and their natural habitats, he said.

“This meeting launches a new conversation with companies and industries at the forefront of change and innovation, and their engagement would bring new business models to enhance the management of national parks and protected areas where wild tigers still roam,” said Keshav Varma, the World Bank’s Program Director for the Global Tiger Initiative.

During the talks in Singapore today, discussion centered on the need to reach out to people across the region and try and change attitudes about tiger products, campaign against poaching and to stress the need for creating a balance between conservation and growth.

On the agenda was also discussion about the value of setting up an advisory council of business leaders across the region with the aim of helping conserve wild tigers and advising on the role industry can play in wildlife conservation issues.

Participants noted that corporations have any number of opportunities to give back to the communities where they are engaged in business, but they need to set a new standard to preserve the environment and natural habitats for tigers and all wildlife because they are part of the region’s natural heritage.

In 2010, through the efforts of the Global Tiger Initiative and partners, the 13 tiger range countries came together at the “Tiger Summit” in St. Petersburg, Russia, where they unanimously endorsed a comprehensive, 12-year strategy to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the Global Tiger Recovery Program.

The Recovery Program estimates that $350 million in incremental financing in the tiger range countries will be necessary over the first five years to bring policy and institutional reform on the ground, with priority given to habitat protection and management, capacity-building, and anti-poaching efforts in national parks and other protected areas across the tiger range.

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