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Interdisciplinary Conservations on Wildlife Trade (ICWT) Conference

May 23, 2024

The first ever Interdisciplinary Conversations on Wildlife Trade (ICWT) conference was held successfully by the Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health (PH), CityU, co-organised by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) at Tai Kwun, Central, Hong Kong, last week (13-14 May, 2024). This world-class event brought together members from the Hong Kong government, the UN, academics, NGOs, and other regional government and forensic institutions, including the US Fish & Wildlife Department Services, PERHILITAN Malaysia, Sarawak Forestry Corporation, Sabah Wildlife Department, IBER Vietnam, and the Australian Museum, in a hybrid, international and multi-disciplinary 2-day conference to discuss illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade within Hong Kong, and regionally. 


“The vision for this conference came from seeing the need to bring multiple disciplines together that were working on IUWT issues across Hong Kong, and internationally on Hong Kong-IUWT-related topics.” Explains conference lead organiser, Dr Chloe Hatten, postdoctoral researcher at PH, CityU. As researchers and practitioners, we’re often hesitant to reach out to different institutions, let alone different disciplines, to enhance our work, so we wanted to create a space to foster those interactions in a meaningful way that was memorable, international, and high-quality.”


"The Hong Kong SAR is a global hub in wildlife trade, as such it's essential every effort is made to ensure the trade here is not unsustainable or illegal. Conferences like this provide a unique and essential forum for interdisciplinary discussions, bringing together academics, NGOs, forensic specialists, policymakers, UN entities to unify our efforts." Sam Inglis, ADM Capital Foundation.


Overall, ICWT left people feeling inspired and empowered to connect with others within the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade research network, to continue the exchange of interdisciplinary knowledge, and develop creative solutions to tackle within the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade not only within Hong Kong, but across the world.


Key organisers from this event included members from PH, CityU, and from the School of Biological Sciences, HKU, and speakers included members from PH, CityU, and the Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, CityU. This event was funded by the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences at CityU, Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, and Croucher Foundation, and supported by a number of local and international organisations including ADM Capital Foundation, WWF, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG), GlobeScan, Ocean Park Corporation, Lingnan University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and Wildlife Illustrations, Hong Kong.


 Panel discussion on Day 1

Panel discussion on Day 1 on: “challenges & collaborative solutions to tackling IUWT”, from left to right: Dr Chloe Hatten, postdoc at CityU, and lead organiser and MC of ICWT, Prof Amanda Whitfort, Animal Crime lawyer, HKU; Wander Meijer, Director of KFBG; Prof Alice Hughes, Associate Professor in Ecology and Biodiversity, HKU; Prof Dirk Pfeiffer, Professor in City University of Hong Kong and Royal Veterinary College, London; and Prof Yifu Wang, Assistant Professor in Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen.


Final ICWT conference photo

Final ICWT conference photo. Participants and speakers represented over 43 different institutions from over 12 countries/regions, a range of early to mature career positions and genders, spanning a wide range of disciplines.