The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has urged companies that use animals to market their brands to give a percentage of their profits to 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.
"Profit-making entities have been using wildlife images to advertise their products, from airlines, hotels and banks to manufacturers, but despite making significant profits, animals are not getting the conservation support they deserve for their existence," 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.
The Assistant UN secretary-general explained that animals appear in approximately 20 per cent of all advertisements in the world, yet despite this, they do not always receive the support they deserve.
"Each year, we lose 10,000 species to extinction – which is an astonishing 1,000 times the natural rate. This crisis may seem insurmountable at times because its scale feels too large for anyone to have a real impact. But this crisis is reversible, and nature can thrive again. The Lion's Share is harnessing this hope," he added.
Big global names in advertising including Mars Incorporated, advertising heavyweight Clemenger BBDO and leading global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen have partnered with UNDP to drive the campaign.
UNDP will host the fund's Secretariat, which will support the overall operations of the fund while JCDecaux will help raise awareness worldwide about the crucial and urgent agenda of wildlife conservation.
Mr Jean-Sébastien Decaux, the CEO of JCDecaux said the Lion's Share global initiative underlines their commitment to preserve and protect biodiversity across the world and the campaign is an opportunity to contribute towards the United Nations' sustainable goals.
Mr Decaux who is charge of Southern Europe, Belgium, Luxembourg, Africa, Israel regions said as the leading advertising company, they are delighted to use the power and reach of marketing portfolio to raise people's awareness and to help create positive and sustainable changes.
"We are proud to support the Lion's Share fund in its mission to promote wildlife conservation and restoring their habitats across the globe, which are key to achieving UN's sustainable goals 14 and 15, on Life under water and on land, respectively" said the CEO.
In September last year, media firm the Economist which publishes The Economist, joined the campaign and pledged to contribute 0.5 per cent of the amount it receives from advertisers featuring animals in their commercials in the group's publications.
"We are pleased to partner with the UNDP as the inaugural publishing partner for the Lion's Share initiative, because it aligns with our brand values," said Chris Stibbs, CEO of The Economist Group.
Since the Lion's Share Fund was launched in June 2018, a total of US$15 million (Sh1.5 billion) has been raised mainly from corporates in Europe and the United States.
The fund's steering committee held its first meeting last week in Nairobi during the UNEA conference, where they discussed and agreed on a five-year investment plan, and how to spend the $15 million raised so far.
Each year, according to UN data, the world loses 10,000 species to extinction – a staggering 1,000 times the natural rate.
In Africa, the fund will provide a grant to improve critical radio systems for law enforcement officers protecting wildlife in Mozambique's Niassa National Reserve.
Other key investments include providing a grant to help secure land for endangered orangutans, elephants and tigers in North Sumatra in Indonesia, a programme to support endangered jaguars in Latin America and to address the loss of tigers and their habitat in Asia.
In the next six years, the Lion's Share fund aims to contribute significantly to issues such as saving the world's remaining 4,000 wild tigers, including by re-establishing their fragmented habitats and helping strengthen tiger-friendly livelihoods for people living in tiger habitats.
Protecting elephants and rhinos from poaching by combating the illegal trade in ivory and rhino horn including through innovative anti-poaching technologies and reducing the illegal trade of birds, fish and reptiles and other exotic pets by reducing the supply and demand for illegal pets through new research and investigation, awareness raising and enforcement.