To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between US and Vietnam, two countries has started OGC program to call for an end of illegal wild trade, especially rhino horns. The launching ceremony took place in Ha Noi University of Pharmacy on 3rd, March - the World Wildlife Day. The ceremony was honored to welcome US Ambassador Ted Osius, Vietnam Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, Deputy Minister of Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen, members of the diplomatic community in Hanoi, domestic and international counterparts and non-governmental organizations such as Freeland, LoveFrankie, One More Generation...
Operation Game Change (OGC) is a coalition aiming to reduce crimes against the wildlife. The objective of OGC is to enhance the public awareness, reduce the demands of products made from wild animals, and simultaneously improve bilateral relation between security and environment. OGC will connect governments, non-governmental organizations, students, and celebrities of Vietnam, American, and South Africa to take joint actions to prevent illegal trafficking of rhino horns and encourage people stop selling and buying endangered species. The setup of OGC program marked an important milestone in the fight against the global threat - crimes against wildlife, especially illegal trade of rhino horns.
Funded by the United States Department of State, OGC will complement and expand activities of Asia's regional response to endangered species trafficking (ARREST) which is funded by US Agency for International Development (USSAID). The objective of ARREST is to reduce consumption trends and trade of endangered species in Asia including Vietnam. OGC is done on the basis of the coordination between government and non-government agencies involving US and Vietnam diplomatic missions, Department of biodiversity conservation (Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment - MONRE), Viet Nam CITES Management Authority (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development - MARD), Education for Nature - Vietnam (EVN), Freeland, LoveFrankie, community groups, youths, and private enterprises. With these attendants, OGC will take accessible actions to change the perception of millions Vietnamese people in next months. OGC was launched in the context when the world has lost 52% of biodiversity in the last 40 years. One of the biggest reasons for this loss is illegal wildlife trade, especially endangered species.
Speaking at the ceremony, US Ambassador Ted Osius said that wildlife protection always received deep interests from US President Barack Obama. Mr. Osius stated today's generation had to protect the originally natural environment, in which, the next generation can enjoy the rich and diverse natural world as today. However, the explosion of wildlife trafficking is threatening this future. This is a reason why OGC launched to call for join actions. OGC will help to enhance people awareness in protecting wild animals and reduce the demands of products made by the animals. This campaign will be conducted to create positive changes for millions of people in Vietnam.
In the ceremony Vietnam agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat welcomed the initiative of American government and other relating organizations in launching OGC program. The program is an attempt in responses to the international community activities to protect the environment and wildlife species. "Vietnam Government takes a serious and considerable interests in the conservation of wild animals. Vietnam's law has clearly shown that. Awareness of wildlife protection in Vietnam has been improved, in which, the trade of rhino horn has decreased. Nonetheless, this is an initial success. The struggle against illegal wildlife trade needs to continue with more effective and practical actions to bring the originally natural world for our next generations", Mr. Phat emphasized. OGC campaign will end with a big free event for the public in Hanoi on the day World Rhino Day on 22nd September, 2015.