The government has announced Zac Goldsmith MP as the new champion for this years London Illegal Wildlife Conference.

The MP will play a key role in the preparations for an international conference about illegal wildlife trade. As champion Mr Goldsmith will bring together global leaders, the private sector and wildlife experts in a bid to build support and partnerships among external stakeholders before the conference.

Boris Johnson said: “The London conference is a once in a generation opportunity to produce a seismic shift in global attitudes to better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction.

“Zac has the extensive knowledge and passion for environmental issues to make the London Illegal Wildlife Conference 2018 in October as ambitious and successful as possible.”

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “Wildlife crime does not respect borders. We must share skills and expertise worldwide. That’s why the London conference will be crucial in tackling international issues that allow the vile and illegal trade in wildlife to continue.

“Zac will bring tremendous energy and drive to this new role. Through his extensive knowledge and experience of working with international environmental groups I am sure he will help to make the conference a huge success.”

Zac Goldsmith MP said: “The illegal wildlife trade is not only taking countless species to the brink of extinction, it is a serious organised crime and fuels some of the world’s worst organisations. The problem continues to grow and now is the time for us to significantly step up our efforts. I am thrilled to have been asked to play a part in making that happen.”

The Illegal Wildlife Trade is estimated to be worth between £7bn and £17bn a year. The UK government has committed £26 million to tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade. This includes around £14 million through the joint DFID/Defra Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. The fund has been allocated to 47 projects since 2015. Projects that have received support encourage the development of sustainable livelihoods, strengthening law enforcement, ensuring effective legal frameworks and reducing demand for products made from illegal flora and fauna.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference will be co-hosted by the FCO, Defra and DFID between 11-12 October.