Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC's Viet Nam office, addresses the conference on the risks posed by online illegal wildlife trade © TRAFFIC

Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC's Viet Nam office, addresses the conference on the risks posed by online illegal wildlife trade © TRAFFIC


Published 16 May 2017

Viet Nam E-Commerce Conference: a prime time to discuss wildlife crime

Hanoi, Viet Nam, 16th May 2017—Roughly 400 leaders in Viet Nam’s technology sector have been given the tools to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that reject threatened wildlife consumption after attending the inaugural Viet Nam E-Trade Conference in Hanoi. 

The Viet Nam E-Commerce Association (VECOM) and the Viet Nam Online Export Support Alliance (VESA) held the conference to assist import-export companies connect, exchange, and create new business opportunities with other enterprises that provide services such as e-commerce, insurance, and logistics. 

TRAFFIC joined the event to ensure that businessmen and women attending the conference recognize the risk that engagement in illegal wildlife trade practices poses for e-commerce companies and the importance of socially responsible business practices. 

Online trade is rapidly increasing in Viet Nam and by 2019 the e-commerce market will be worth an estimated 7.5 billion US dollars, although unfortunately, not all the commodities traded online are legal, particularly wildlife and wildlife products

Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC’s Viet Nam office“TRAFFIC identified this conference as an opportunity to address the shortcomings we’ve found in Viet Nam’s fast-growing world of online trade while simultaneously engaging some of the most prolific consumers of illegal wildlife products. In order to combat wildlife crime, we need to monitor trade channels and reduce consumer demand, particularly among the business community, which market research has shown to include the major consumers of rhino horn.” 

In 2016, TRAFFIC conducted a 23-day rapid assessment of the top eight e-commerce websites in Viet Nam to determine the prevalence of wildlife sales online. For 30 minutes each day, TRAFFIC searched for products ranging from live animals to commodities such as rhino horn and ivory. Over the course of the assessment, TRAFFIC found 180 advertisements for wildlife—64% of which advertised illegal commodities.

TRAFFIC partners with civil society organizations like VECOM to encourage the e-commerce sector and other members of the business community to adopt processes and policies that reduce the illegal trade and consumption of wildlife.  

VECOM has been a strong ally in fostering socially responsible practices amongst entrepreneurs in Viet Nam’s tech sector. Last year, VECOM held a search engine optimization competition where contestants created websites educating and advocating zero-tolerance towards rhino horn consumption. They have also been integral in promoting TRAFFIC’s Chi Initiative, a social marketing approach to encourage threatened wildlife consumers to change their behaviour. 

This year, VECOM invited TRAFFIC team members to the Viet Nam E-Trade Conference to participate in a round-table discussion to provide guidance on CSR policies that combat illegal wildlife trade online. With funding from the French Development Agency, TRAFFIC also ran a Chi exhibition to engage participants and encourage them to take a stand against wildlife crime. 

“We’ve seen from TRAFFIC’s research that illegal trade can slip through the cracks of legitimate channels such as e-commerce websites. We invited the TRAFFIC team to the conference because they can show participants methods to protect their companies while strengthening their current business models. Moreover, strong CSR policies can attract new business and foreign investment,” said Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung, VECOM’s Chairman.