CITES Parties Revise Trade Rules for Dozens of Threatened Wildlife Species
Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis
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CoP18 delegates addressed 57 proposals to increase or decrease controls on international trade in wildlife and wildlife products, submitted by 90 parties.

In addition, 140 documents proposing new measures and policies on international trade in wild fauna and flora were submitted for consideration by the Conference.

28 August 2019: In remarks to the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero stressed that, “Humanity needs to respond to the growing extinction crisis by transforming the way we manage the world’s wild animals and plants. Business as usual is no longer an option.”

CoP18 convened from 17-28 August 2019, in Geneva, Switzerland. It took place fewer than four months after the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released its landmark Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which warned that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, and that the rate of species extinctions is accelerating with grave impacts on people around the world. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of CoP18 reports that delegates responded to this crisis, in part, by revising the trade rules for dozens of wildlife species that are threatened by unsustainable trade linked to overharvesting, overfishing, or overhunting.

CoP18 delegates addressed 57 proposals to increase or decrease controls on international trade in wildlife and wildlife products, submitted by 90 parties. In addition, 140 documents proposing new measures and policies on international trade in wild fauna and flora were submitted for consideration by the Conference.

Among the issues addressed, in response to demand for African teak from western Africa, CoP18 considered the need for trade permits to include plywood and other forms. Delegates agreed to protections for the Mulanje cedar, and mukula tree, which were added to Appendix II, indicating they may become endangered if their trade is not regulated. All Latin American species of cedar were also listed in Appendix II.

CoP18 added 18 shark species to Appendix II, including blacknose and sharpnose guitarfishes, shortfin and longfin mako sharks, and wedgefishes. The CoP also addressed other marine species, including eels, teatfish (sea cucumber), queen conch, marine turtles, precious corals, sturgeons, and seahorses. In response to the increasing exotic pet trade, many species of turtle, lizard, and gecko were granted protections. CoP18 also established the CITES Big Cat Task Force with a mandate to improve enforcement, tackle illegal trade and promote collaboration on conserving tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars and leopards. CoP18 rejected proposals to permit some limited trade in ivory from African elephants.

CoP18 closed with the adoption of the CITES Strategic Vision Post-2020, which seeks to position CITES as a leader in promoting transformative change, environmental, economic and social sustainability, and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Furthermore, the role of local and indigenous communities that live on the frontlines of wildlife conservation and sustainable management, and their need for adequate incomes and livelihoods, was widely recognized.

CoP19 will be held in 2022 in Costa Rica. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of CoP18]


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