Wildlife & Biodiversity

66th Standing Committee meeting of CITES underway in Geneva

National Ivory Action Plans, domestic legislation and additional measures to protect endangered species being discussed

By Rajeshwari Ganesan
Published: Wednesday 13 January 2016

File photo

The illegal killing of elephants for their ivory and rhinos for their horns is high on the agenda of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) at the 66th meeting of its Standing Committee (SC66) in Geneva. Other high priority issues include the illegal trade in Asian big cats, pangolins and various high value timber species, including rosewood.

The committee is also discussing the adequacy of national legislation to implement CITES in 17 priority countries (Algeria, Belize, Plurinational State of Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Paraguay, Rwanda, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania and Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela) in addition to the lack of submission of annual reports of trade, including whether compliance measures may be necessary.

The meeting includes the participation of 500 dignitaries from across the globe from 77 Parties, 59 intergovernmental organisations, 139 NGOs and 16 private sector organisations.

Speaking at the opening of SC66 this week, John E Scanlon, secretary-general of CITES, said, “With unprecedented levels of political support being shown for CITES, new and substantial sources of funding becoming available to CITES Parties, and direct support for CITES implementation coming from a wide array of partners both within and outside of the UN system, we have achieved our objective to help the world rediscover the importance of CITES both in its own right and for the contribution that it makes towards other relevant global goals and targets. This is now generating the sort of financial and technical support required for those serving in the front lines to effectively implement the Convention—both in combating illicit trafficking and ensuring the legality and sustainability of trade in Appendix II listed species.”

The second day of the meeting saw the release of a new handbook on CITES and livelihoods which aims to enable countries to assess the impact of the CITES listings on the livelihoods of poor rural communities that live alongside wild plants and animals.

Releasing the handbook, Claudia de Windt from the Department of Sustainable Development, Organization of American States, said, “The CITES and Livelihoods handbook demonstrates the intrinsic link to Sustainable Development Goal 15, where countries are encouraged to increase the capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihood opportunities in order to enhance support for efforts to combat poaching and trafficking of protected species.”

The handbook will be deployed to maximise positive impacts of the CITES listings and mitigate the negative ones.

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