A convention at the intersection of Trade, Environment and Development
CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES)
JOHN E. SCANLON, SECRETARY-GENERAL, CITES
There are now seven billion people consuming biodiversity every day in the form of medicines, food, clothes, furniture, perfumes and luxury goods – and hundreds of millions of people depend on biodiversity for their livelihoods and survival, most particularly in local and indigenous communities.
Consumption of biodiversity is growing at an unprecedented rate, and our ability to harvest wildlife knows no limits. This is challenging the ability of communities and governments to use their natural resources sustainably, and in some cases it is threatening the survival of species in the wild.
CITES is a convention that stands at the intersection between trade, environment and development – and the Convention is needed more today than it was back in March, 1973 when it was adopted in Washington, D.C.
CITES is the Convention that has put into practice the concept of the sustainable use of biodiversity for the past 36 years – with benefits for local people and the global environment. It also detects and addresses the overexploitation of biodiversity through international trade in wildlife that is unsustainable or illegal.
CITES does this by providing an agreed permit and certificate system which regulates international trade in close to 35 000 species of plants and animals, both terrestrial and marine, including their parts and derivatives.
Commercial trade is only prohibited for 3 % of CITES-listed species (Appendix I), such as the tiger. For 96 % (Appendix II), such as orchids, vicuñas, crocodiles, mahogany and the queen conch, trade is regulated to be sure it is legal, sustainable and traceable. And individual States, such as Brazil, Madagascar, Panama and the Russian Federation, are increasingly using the ‘voluntary’ CITES Appendix (Appendix III) to list high value timber species to better track legal trade and to combat illegal trade in timber.