Companies using animals in adverts to donate to wildlife charities

Companies that use animals to market their brands will now be required by United Nations Development Programme to raise funds for wildlife conservation.

In the new initiative dubbed Lion's Share, the corporate world in all UN member states will be expected to make voluntary contributions every time an animal appears in their adverts.

The money raised will be channelled towards conservation of wildlife habitats and animal welfare.

Advertisers like Kenya Commercial Bank which uses a lion in its logo or Nakumatt chain stores that uses elephant symbol are being asked to contribute 0.5 per cent of their media spending for each TV, print or online marketing campaign featuring an animal.

The campaign argues that whereas many corporate bodies use animals to advance their commercial brands and make profits, little or nothing is channelled back to the wildlife, most of which continue to be endangered due to human activities.

The Lion's Share Fund gives brands the opportunity to take urgent and significant action to play their role in protecting wildlife conservation and animal welfare by raising money, beyond corporate social responsibility, in a more sustainable way.

According to Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, the director of UNDP's bureau for policy and programme support, the initiative is a coalition of the willing and anyone who feels compassionate enough to give back to the wildlife, they are using to generate profits.

"Everyone is commercially abusing the wildlife to advertise their products from airlines, hotels, banks, manufacturing firms, but despite this profit-making significance, animals do not always get the support they deserve" he said in an interview with the Nation.

Mr Dieye explained: "We're not compelling firms to contribute to Lion's Share Fund but rather creating moral compassion and awareness on the need to support wildlife conservation".

He says the new fund aims to raise US$100 million (Sh10 billion) annually in the next three years. The money will be invested in initiatives and programmes that benefit animal welfare, conservation and their environments worldwide.

Statistics compiled by UN indicate that, advertisers worldwide spend about US$300 billion (Sh30 trillion) and the campaigners think the 0.5 per cent is a tiny fraction of the global budget that will see them raise a minimum of US$100 million annually.

Out of the Sh30 trillion spending, animals appear in approximately 20 per cent of all advertisements in the world, yet despite this, animals do not always receive the support they deserve.

"We intend to raise the amount from advertisers whom we expect to contribute 0.5 per cent of their media spend every time an animal is featured in an advertisement," the UN official explained

This, he said will go a long way in reversing the deaths of wildlife species in danger of extinction globally by restoring their depleted habitats and enhancing their protection measures.

Two weeks ago, UNDP signed a major partnership agreement with global outdoor advertising firm JCDecaux Group, the latest partner to join the Lion's Share Fund campaign.

The deal was signed during the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, which brought together more than 4,700 delegates including six heads of state, environment ministers from 88 countries, business leaders and civil society representatives from across the world.

JCDecaux, which operates in 4,031 cities across more than 80 countries – 20 of them in Africa and reaches a daily audience of over 410 million people, will play a key role in the initiative, running campaigns of the Lion's Share across the year.

"This latest partnership with JCDecaux marks a continuing evolution of this innovative fund, which is providing an opportunity for media companies to join and to help preserve and protect biodiversity across the globe" said Mr Dieye.

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