21 Feb 2022
Venue: Online | Webex
This briefing focused on the preparations of the upcoming 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES SC74), to be held in Lyon, France, from 7 to 11 March 2022.
About this Session
The upcoming 74th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee will take place in the Metropolis of Lyon (France) and bring together members and observers to review strategic, policy and species-specific matters affecting the implementation of the Convention in preparation for the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP19) to take place in November 2022 in Panama.
Amongst many others matters that require careful consideration, the CITES Standing Committee will discuss the following issues:
- The CITES Strategic vision (2021 – 2030) and cooperation with other biodiversity related conventions;
- The role of CITES in reducing the risk of future zoonotic disease;
- CITES and forests and the Task Force on illegal trade in CITES-listed tree species;
- National laws to implement and enforce CITES and annual reporting by CITES Parties;
- Compliance matters, including the implementation of Article XIII processes, and the Review of Significant Trade in Appendix-II species as well as the review of trade in animal specimens reported as produced in captivity;
- Wildlife crime enforcement support in West and Central Africa;
- Work carried out by the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime;
- Elephants, rhinos, totoaba, pangolins, jaguars and other species related matters; and
- The contribution of sustainable use of CITES-listed species to livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities as well as the engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities in CITES processes.
Jean-Patrick LE DUC
Head, French delegation for CITES SC74
Chief Ad Interim, Governing Bodies Unit, CITES
Chief, Science Unit, CITES
Chief, Legal Unit, CITES
Chief, Enforcement Unit, CITES
Chief Ad Interim, Outreach and Projects Unit, CITES
Ivonne Higuero | Secretary-General, CITES
- Excellencies, representatives of governments, members of civil society, ladies, and gentlemen. A very warm welcome to all of you for this briefing on the 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), scheduled to take place from 7 to 11 March in Lyon, France. At such a difficult time, as we are emerging now from the pandemic and its many restrictions, the CITES Secretariat is grateful to France for hosting the first in-person Standing Committee meeting since 2019. As many of you know, CITES is a legally binding multilateral agreement that sets rules for the international wildlife trade. The Convention regulates international trade in over 38,000 species of wild animals and plants. Its purpose is to ensure that this trade is legal, sustainable and traceable. All 184 parties to CITES must take measures to enforce the Convention and trade in accordance with its rules. The work of CITES parties shows that regulating the trade and use of wildlife can benefit people, the planet and prosperity by conserving wild species while preserving the livelihoods of those who rely on them.
- As you may also know the role of the CITES Standing Committee is to provide policy guidance on the implementation of the Convention and to carry out the tasks given to it by the Conference of the Parties or COP. COP18 took place in August 2019 in Geneva, and the upcoming meeting of the Standing Committee will be the last regular meeting and a very critical milestone on the way to COP19 in November in Panama.
- The Standing Committee has been able to conclude some of the work assigned to it through online means, but we are all really excited to meet face to face and Lyon, France, to discuss an impressive or rather jam-packed agenda of 89 items, informed by 117 documents, focused on specie-specific and international trade regulation issues. It will also discuss means to effectively involve indigenous peoples and local communities in CITES processes considering the importance of natural resources, including CITES-listed species in supporting livelihoods. Some of the topics include concerted action against the estimated 5Billion dollar criminal trade and reducing global demand for illegally traded animal and plant products, preventing the possible transfer of diseases from animals to humans with CITES support.
- A new study on the illegal trade and jaguars, and many items related to elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, eels, totoabas, seahorses, pangolins and CITES-listed tree species. And also very importantly, compliance matters and potential compliance matters will also be on the agenda of the Standing Committee in Lyon.
- Recent analysis shows that there will be twice as many meetings of the environmental treaty governing bodies in 2022 than might be expected during non-COVID times. For CITES, the Standing Committee meeting in France, and the 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES in Panama later this year, are critical: they will contribute to the global environmental agenda, and ensure that the global community move towards the fulfilment of the CITES strategic vision, agreed by the parties, as well as contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and the forthcoming Global Biodiversity Framework.
- More than 400 participants have already registered for the meeting, and it is clear that Standing Committee members, parties, and organizations are looking forward to engaging on CITES matters. It is important to note that the meeting will also be streamed live on YouTube for those who are not able to travel to France. I will shortly hand over to my colleagues to briefly present some of the key agenda items to be discussed during the upcoming meeting. However, after the presentations, there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions, and the secretariat is, of course, available later if you need more details.
Jean-Patrick Le Duc | Head, French delegation for CITES SC74
- As you are aware, there is today the very important commitment of France for the biodiversity of the planet. We had the One Planet Summit in January 2021, the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, in September 2021, and recently we had the One Ocean Summit last February in the Brest. Also, France holds the presidency of the European Council, so we will organize this 74th meeting of the Standing Committee in Lyon from 7 to 11 March. This means that we have 19 members and other parties, which will be observers and other organizations. We are waiting for about 600 participants and more than 400 have already registered. The meeting will be held close to Lyon in the Hippodrome de la Soie in Vaulx-en-Velin, with over 1765 species of plants and animals – the venue is perfectly located near the airport of Lyon and not far from the Centre of town, a World Heritage site and world capital of gastronomy.
- The main challenge in the organization of this event has been COVID. The information we can provide you today may change in a good way
- If you travel to France, of course, it will depend on the country of departure and the airline. Today we have no red country in France, which facilitates entrance to the country. You will need to have evidence of a complete vaccination with a vaccine approved by the EU. If you don’t have that, you need to present evidence of compelling reason, which is provided by the CITES Secretariat and to sign an engagement of self-isolation and negative test of at least 24 hours.
- To enter the Conference Centre, the rules will be more simple and you will need to present a sanitary pass, which means two vaccinations approved by the EU, or the last one being approved by the EU, or you need to have a negative test – possibly onsite, of less than 24 hours. The update will be on the website of the Ministry of Finances.
Thea CARROLL | Chief Ad Interim, Governing Bodies Unit, CITES
- This intervention will provide a brief overview of some strategic matters and agenda items related to elephants and to be discussed by the 74th Meeting of the Standing Committee.
- The CITES Strategic Vision: adopted by the 18th meeting of the COP, outlines the Convention’s direction for the 2021-2030 timeframe in fulfilment of its mandate. According to the Vision, by 2030 all international trade in wild flora and fauna is legal and sustainable, consistent with long-term conservation of species and contributing to halting biodiversity loss to ensuring its sustainable use and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- The Secretariat and the Standing Committee Working Group reports to the SC74 on the decision adopted by COP18 relating to the CITES Strategic Vision. In this regard, the Secretariat reports on the comparative analysis to illustrate linkages between the adopted Strategic Vision and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additionally, the Secretariat reports on the review of the objectives of the Strategic Vision against the current CITES resolution and decisions.
- The Scientific Committee endorses the mapping of the resolution and decisions against the objectives of the Strategic Vision, suggesting additions and recommendations incorporated by the Secretariat in the document to be considered by the Standing Committee.
- The Standing Committee Working Group was asked to consider the information in the reports and implementation submitted by parties, as well as the comparative analysis carried out by the Secretariat and propose new or revised indicators of progress to be included in the CITES Strategic Vision. The Standing Committee will consider developed indicators developed and reviewed by the Working Group and draft decisions for the submission of COP19, relating to the mapping of the CITES Strategic Vision against the Global Biodiversity Framework, still under negotiations.
- With regards to collaborations with other biodiversity conventions, the Secretariat presents the Standing Committee with information and provisions contained in existing resolutions and decisions related to synergies, partnerships and cooperation with other biodiversity-related entities, as well as an overview of existing formal agreements with biodiversity-related conventions. Additionally, it reflects on comprehensive, overarching decisions and resolutions on partnerships, cooperation and synergies adopted by governing bodies of several biodiversity-related conventions to support the implementation of their respective mandates.
- The Secretariat concludes that a partnership strategy could assist in ensuring a more strategic, streamlined, cohesive and effective approach to cooperation. This also aligns with Goal 5 of the CITES Strategic Vision (Delivery of the CITES Strategic Vision is improved through collaboration).
- Key agenda items relating to elephants: at its 17th meeting, the Standing Committee requested a review of the Elephant Trade Information System (ETIS) and adopted the Terms of Reference for its review. The COP added to the terms of reference at its 18th meeting and the Secretariat consequently contracted independent consultants to carry out the review. ETIS uses elephant specimens’ seizure data to compile detailed analysis related to national trading in elephants’ specimens, especially ivory. This also works as the foundation to identify parties participating in the national ivory action plan process.
- The independent reviewers’ overall rating of ETIS was satisfactory. The Secretariat shaped the review of the MIKE-ETIS subgroup of the Standing Committee and, based on feedback received; an assessment report; and associated recommendations, proposed amendments to the Resolution on Trade on Elephant Specimens, as well as the Resolution on National Reports for consideration by the Standing Committee.
- The Secretariat also proposed that the recommendations related to technical aspects should be addressed in collaboration with the MIKE-ETIS Technical Advisory Group.
- With regards to the operational and financial sustainability of the MIKE and ETIS programs, the Secretariat chairs with the Standing Committee Proposals possible approach to address these, focusing on the MIKE program, since the ETIS was addressed in the aforementioned review.
- The long-term Monitoring and Capacity-Building Program rely on donor funding to support Elephant Range States in implementing the program and producing information and analysis on trends and illegal killing of elephants for consideration by the relevant CITES meetings.
- The Standing Committee is invited to approach the Secretariat to address the operational and financial sustainability of the MIKE program.
- Concerning ivory stockpile management, the Standing Committee Working Group presents two documents for consideration by the Standing Committee: Practical Guidance On Ivory Stockpile Management and a review of Elephant Ivory Destruction Methods; while the Secretariat reports to the Standing Committee on annual inventories on stockpiles. The Secretariat noted that since 2014 when reporting on stockpile inventories were introduced, only 39 parties have declared the ivory stocks for one year or another and only two parties have declared their stockpiles every year. The Standing Committee is invited to appeal to parties to step up efforts to comply with the provisions relating to ivory stockpile management and reporting and to determine necessary actions in the case of parties failing to provide annual inventories of ivory stockpiles.
- COP18 adopted several decisions on the definition of the term “appropriate and acceptable destinations”. This term appears in annotations regarding the Appendix II listed populations of the Southern White Rhino of Eswatini and South Africa, and the African elephant of Botswana and Zimbabwe. The COP adopted a resolution on the definition of the term “appropriate and acceptable destinations” that explains its meaning. This includes that management and scientific authorities must determine whether a proposed recipient of a living specimen is suitably equipped to house and care for it sustainably and the scientific authority must be satisfied that the trade would promote in-situ conservation.
- The Animals Committee presents for consideration by the Standing Committee, Non-Binding, Best Practice Guidance on how to determine whether the trade would promote in-situ conservation; and Non-Binding Guidance for determining with the proposed recipient of a living specimen of an African elephant or the southern white rhino is suitably equipped to house and are for it.
- In order to continue collecting feedback on the guidance, the Animals Committee further propose a set of draft decisions for consideration by the Standing Committee. It has also agreed at its last meeting to defer concerns about the interpretation of provisions for the regulation of international trade in live elephants, as it relates to specific cases to the Standing Committee for its advice and recommendations as appropriate.
- As to the agenda item on the closure of domestic ivory markets, the Secretariat provides the Standing Committee with reports received from parties that have not closed their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory on the measures that they are taking to ensure that their domestic ivory markets are not contributing to poaching or illegal trade.
- Ten parties provided reports to the Secretariat. The Secretariat notes that the development, review and implementation of legislative provisions, seem to be the focus of most parties, since it underpins all other activities, such as enforcement, including inspections, as well as public awareness campaigns. The Standing Committee is invited to, among others, consider the reports submitted by the parties.
- Finally, the Standing Committee is provided with a report on the implementation of the Resolution on Trade in Elephant Specimens, that includes information on several aspects such as:
- The CITES MIKE Programme, which reports among others, an annual trend in the annual mean, continental PIKE or proportion of illegally killed elephants for Africa from 2011 to 2020.
- The ETIS Programme, which reports inter-alia ivory trade analysis, shows that there was a peak in the ivory seizure from 2014 to 2015, after which there has been an overall decreasing trend in the illegal ivory trade until 2020.
- Considering the potential impact of COVID-19, future trends analysis will be important in determining whether these downward trends will be maintained.
- An overview of trade on elephants specimens, based on CITES Annual Report data is provided by UNEP WCMCand information relating to the conservation status of African and Asian elephants, provided by the respective IUCN Elephant Specialist Groups – African Elephant Specialist Group (AfESG) and Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) – were included in the report; as well as an update on the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan through the African Elephant Fund.
- The Secretariat furthermore provides information to the Standing Committee relating to the implementation of decisions on trade in Asian elephants. In this regard, the Secretariat recommends a decision to be submitted to COP19 to continue the work initiated on possible minimum requirements for the registering, marking and tracing system for live Asian elephants to be consulted with the States.
- The Secretariat also informs the Standing Committee that external funding could not be secured to commission a study in accordance with the Decision on Trade in Mammoth Ivory adopted at COP18, but that work initiated by other stakeholders could assist in moving this work forward, and its decisions in this regard are proposed to be considered by the Standing Committee.
Juan Carlos VASQUEZ | Chief, Legal Unit, CITES
- Two main blocks will be addressed:
- Legal and Compliance Issues
- Socio-Economic issues
Legal and Compliance Issues
- The following items of the SC74 documents will be addressed:
- National Laws; Annual Reports; Compliance Matters; a new approach to review annotations; guidance to verify the legality of CITES transactions; compliance assistance program to provide more aligned and efficient assistance to parties subject to compliance measures; the Secretariat assessment of the situation in Nigeria, Laos, PDR, Guinea, DRC, Madagascar and Japan; Introduction from the Sea; and additionally an important and complex discussion on reservations to CITES appendixes and an important document on DNA wildlife products that may be regulated under CITES.
- On National laws, under the National Legislation Project, the Secretariat provides technical assistance to parties through legal analysis; bilateral meetings and regional workshops; and the development of specific tools. To date, 108 of the 184 parties to the Convention (58.7 %), have legislation listed under Category 1 according to the National Legislation Project, which is the top category, despite progress and commitments that have been significant for some parties, 72 parties have their legislation placed in Categories 2 and 3, requiring quick legislative adaptation. Since COP18, the legislation of 4 additional parties and of one dependent territory has been placed in Category 1. These parties are Jordan, Mauritania, Saint Kitts and Navis, Solomon Islands and the territories of Tristan da Cunha. Over 50 parties and dependent territories have provided a written update on legislation progress to CITES Secretariat since COP18, and most of them have reported substantial progress in adopting appropriate legislative measures for the implementation of the Convention. However, parties that have not reported progress since COP18 were identified as “parties requiring the attention of the Standing Committee as a priority”. These countries are Dominica, Kazakhstan, Libya, Mongolia and São Tomé and Príncipe. According to the decisions adopted at the last COP, the Standing Committee recommends that the Secretariat issues a notification recommending parties not to authorize any commercial trade in a specimen of CITES-listed species with those parties.
- On Annual Reports, the Secretariat informs that the following parties have failed to submit an annual report for three consecutive years or more during the period 2018 to 2020 without providing adequate justification: Albania, Australia, Burundi, Chad, Dominica, Iceland, Iran, Libya, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, San Marino, San Tomé and Principe, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan and Togo. However, since the document was published on the CITES website, the following parties have submitted their mission reports: Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Nepal, San Marino, Sudan, Samoa, Tajikistan, Togo and Congo. Several parties are in the process of preparing the reports and the Secretariat aspects to receive this before the meeting of the Standing Committee.
The Secretariat informs that the following parties have failed to submit an annual report for three consecutive years or more during the period 2018 to 2020 without providing adequate justification […] We will be grateful if the Missions can communicate with their capitals about this, and we will be happy to discuss bilaterally with the parties concerned.
- Potential Compliance matters are:
- The trade in live Asian elephants between Laos PDR and China
- Trade of Pericopsis elata timber in Cameroon
- The registration of operations of captive breeding facilities in the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- The timber trade from or to Vietnam
- An additional indication about trading birds to or from Bangladesh
- There are ongoing compliance cases under the application of Article XIII. These cases are the situations of compliance are in Laos PDR, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria. There is also a case of recommendation of the case of Sea Whale by Japan, expected to be closed at the upcoming meeting. Additionally, there is a case of Malagasy ebony, a timber from Madagascar, that has been going on for several COPs, in addition to the National Ivory Action Plan Processes, and a case on Totoaba.
- Another legal issue relevant for this meeting is the verification of legality, one of the two key pillars of the CITES regime to regulate trade and called “Legal Acquisition Findings”. It consists of verification by the management authority of each country to certify that specimens are coming from authorized places and are of legal origin. CITES is providing guidance on how to make those verifications, and this will be discussed in Lyon. A second relevant legal issue concerns the trade in marine species, with a special focus on sharks. These are showcased by statistics and different findings from studies on “Introduction from the Sea”, which is the harvesting of marine species listed in CITES from the high seas, or areas beyond national jurisdiction into the ports and on the markets of the different countries. Data, as well as key questions identified by the countries on how to regulate this relatively new trade, will be brought about to discuss the need for more guidance and more clarification. This aims to increase the levels of implementation of CITES for marine species.
- Other additional documents on legal issues are quite complex and require to be addressed. It is likely that some delegations will bring their legal experts to discuss a document on Reservations that was proposed by the Secretariat following the discussions at COP18. This affects the Annotations of the listings of certain species, in particular African elephants, and the situation where some parties sent communications to the Depository Government regarding the amendments that resulted following that discussion. All legal implications of accepting these communications as reservations will be discussed along with suggestions proposed to bring more clarity to this aspect under the Convention. Other big legal discussions on Annotations concern mechanisms to review them in a periodic manner, but also prior to the decision-making process at the COP. Following the mandate received from the COP in Geneva 2019, the Legal Unit is proposing a new mechanism for discussion at the Committee. In addition, a “periodic review mechanism” to bring clarity and legal certainty to annotations added to the listings of a species at the COPs is suggested.
- The socio-economic block focuses on the engagement of indigenous people and local communities; the social impacts of wildlife trade; and the livelihood of the rural poor. Despite the two working groups on these items were not able to make a lot of progress during this inter-sessional period, the Secretariat managed reporting on several cases, showing how wildlife trade benefits local communities and conservation at the same time.
- Wildlife trade can be beneficial for economies, for the people by reducing poverty and for conservation. These examples are being shared through a document on CITES and livelihoods, while at the same time, guidance on how to maximize the benefit to indigenous people and local communities from their trade in CITES-listed species is being produced.
- Finally, a study on illegal trade in jaguars in the Americas is being finalized. This represents another issue in international debates: building an evidence-based crime prevention strategy. A study on this is being prepared with the main findings and conclusions on jaguars for the consideration of the Standing Committee.
Ben Janse VAN RENSBURG | Chief, Enforcement Unit, CITES
- Starting with enforcement matters, the document prepared for SC74 highlights issues, decisions and resolutions adopted since COP18 in different fora. This reflects the continued concerns over the devastating impacts of wildlife crime and the importance of addressing it as a serious crime. The document also outlines the continued challenge posed by corruption and a need for parties to continue taking strong measures to mitigate and combat corruption.
- The document also outlines the need to scale up efforts to address illicit financial flows from wildlife crime and to integrate the investigation or financial crimes into wildlife crime investigations.
- The Standing Committee will consider a number of recommendations prepared on these matters at SC74.
- Regarding Wildlife crime linked to the Internet, various decisions have been taken, such as the capacity established by Interpol to assist parties in their efforts to combat these crimes. Several resources on best practices and modern measures to combat these crimes have been published: The Interpol guidelines on wildlife crime link to the Internet for Law enforcement practitioners; and the Wildlife Crime Linked to the Internet webpage available on the CITES Secretary Website.
- Regarding Wildlife Crime Enforcement support in Western and Central Africa at COP18, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the CITES Secretariat developed a Western and Central Africa Threat Assessment Report. Based on the discussions, several decisions and recommendations related to these two sub-regions were adopted. The CITES Secretariat highlights several initiatives undertaken by parties in Western and Central Africa since COP18 to strengthen their CITES implementation to address wildlife crime. Nevertheless, the two sub-regions continue to be significantly affected by wildlife crime and it is necessary to further strengthen the efforts to provide further support. The Secretariat developed a suite of activities that could be delivered in support of strengthening the implementation and the enforcement of CITES across Western and Central Africa. This includes training on border control activities, activities to announce national legislation and its implementation, and activities to support coordination and collaboration amongst others. Additionally, the Secretariat wrote to the parties into sub-regions, inviting expressions of interest to receive capacity-building support. This produced more than ten requests for support and work in this regard is ongoing.
- Other documents on this agenda item include those from the Plants Committee and Senegal concerning widespread illegal trade affecting Pterocarpus erinaceus tree species and the inclusion of this species in the Review of Significant Trade process. Additionally, a document submitted by Nigeria, Benin and Niger, on behalf Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), highlights the adoption of the West African Strategy on Combating Wildlife Crime (WASCWC) and proposes decisions for consideration by the Committee and forwarding to COP19.
- The Secretariat will also report to SC74 on two CITES task forces.
- The Task Force on illegal trading specimens of CITES-listed tree species convened in February 2022, develops measures and activities to elaborate strategies to prevent and combat illegal trade in specimens of CITES-listed trees species. These include measures and activities on forest legality, traceability, international and regional cooperation, physical inspections, species identification, risk assessment and profiling and addressing corruption and financial crimes linked to the forestry sector. The outcomes of the Task Force meeting will be presented to the Standing Committee for review and to make further recommendations as the Committee deems appropriate.
- The CITES Big Cats Task Force is still to be convened. COP18 adopted the decision that directed the Secretariat to draft terms of reference and the modus operandi for the CITES Big Cats Task Force and for the Standing Committee to review it prior to convening the first Task Force meeting. The revised draft terms of reference and modus operandi for the task force are currently ready and will be considered by the Standing Committee at the present meeting.
- Regarding the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), the Secretariat will report on the activities conducted by ICCWC partners; on the tools developed under the auspices of the consortium; and on how the Consortium continues developing.
- The Consortium is the collaborative effort between the CITES Secretariat, Interpol, UNODC, the World Bank, and the World Customs Organization. It continues to play a critical role in assisting parties globally to combat wildlife through a coordinated and cohesive approach and providing parties with the tools, services, and technical support needed to bring the criminals involved in wildlife crime to justice.
- The document on ICCWC prepared for SC74 highlights numerous matters, including ICCWC Annual Report for 2020 as well as the development of the ICCWC vision 2030, currently ongoing.
- Regarding species-specific enforcement matters:
- Document on the Rhinoceros prepared for SC74, highlights the majors and activities being implemented by parties to address crimes involving rhinos. The Committee will consider reports from Namibia, South Africa, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe as any oral updates that may be provided by China, Mozambique, and Myanmar. In accordance with the decisions on the rhinoceroses adopted at COP18 that were directed to these parties. Another matter is decision 18.110, adopted that COP18, stating that parties seizing illegal rhino specimens should share a timely reporting of such seizure to countries of origin and submit DNA samples from these specimens for forensic analysis, and to support investigations across the illegal trade chain. The Secretariat will further report on work undertaken to explore options regarding how information on challenges and best practices associated with addressing rhino poaching and horn trafficking could be incorporated and reflected upon in the report on rhinoceroses prepared for each meeting of the COP, in accordance with the resolution on conservation and trading African rhinoceros. A detailed report on this work is included in the Annex to the SC74 document and based on the outcomes of the work conducted, the Secretariat proposes certain amendments to Resolution Conf. 9.14
- Pangolins continue to be significantly affected by illegal trade. The Secretariat will report to the Committee on ongoing work to develop conversion parameters for all pangolin species, and the Secretariat also, in accordance with the COP18 decision commission report on pangolins, which include information on the national conservation status of pangolins species, legal and illegal trading, stockpile management as also on enforcement issues, related to illegal pangolin specimen trade. The Standing Committee will consider this report and recommendations prepared by the Secretariat as well as draft decisions proposals for submission to COP19, which were prepared by the Animals Committee as well as the CITES Secretariat. These include, for example, recommendations and decisions on matters such as the conversion parameters, the development and implementation of in-situ pangolin management and conservation programs, identification, and the reference materials on pangolins, stockpile management and others.
There is also a document on Asian big cats. The continued seizures of specimens, including those that originated from captive breeding facilities, and the potential impact this illegal trade could have on Asian big cats’ populations in the wild, remains a concern. It is essential that parties further scale up efforts to address illegal trade in these animals. The document on Asian big cats includes the information on the reporting received from parties regarding their implementation of the decisions on illegal trade in Asian big cats, and also their implementation of Resolution Conf. 12.5 (Rev. COP18) on conservation of, and trade in tigers and other species. This includes reporting on monitoring matters, such as the conservation status of Asian big cats, the management practices and controls concerning facilities, keeping them in captivity, enforcement measures and activities to address illegal trading, and reduction of demand for illegal tigers and other Asian big cats’ specimens. The Secretariat will also report to the Committee that due to COVID 19 measures, limiting meetings and travel, it was not yet able to undertake missions to parties in those territories. There are facilities that may be of concern keeping Asian big cats in captivity, and the Secretariat will endeavour to undertake missions as soon as the resources and current travel restrictions associated with COVID19 allow it. The Standing Committee will consider the reporting received from parties and the recommendations prepared by the Secretariat concerning, amongst others, regular monitoring and inspections of facilities, keeping big cats in captivity and the sharing of images from tiger skins seizures.
- There is also a document on Totoaba. Illegal fishing of totoaba and the threat this poses to the Vaquita remains a matter of great concern. The Standing Committee will consider reports from the Secretariat, Mexico, and other parties and stakeholders on their implementation of the COP18 Decisions on Totoaba. The Committee will consider the reporting from Mexico on the measures and activities it conducted to implement the Decisions on Totoaba directed to it. The Secretariat will also report on the outcomes of the online Meeting of Range, Transit and Consumer States of Totoaba convened in October 2021 and other matters. Further, the Committee will consider an application from Mexico for registration of a totoaba breeding facility in the CITES Register of operations that breed Appendix-I animal species for commercial purposes.
- There will also be other species-specific enforcement matters discussed such as a report from Madagascar on illegal trade in tortoise and freshwater turtles, a document on Tibetan antelope as well as the documents submitted by Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen illegal trading cheetahs.
David MORGAN | Chief, Science Unit, CITES
Among the many issues on the agenda of the upcoming Standing Committee with a “scientific flavour”, the following four are key.
CITES and Forests
- The topic of forests has been moving up the international agenda in recent years, as demonstrated by the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the Declaration on Forests and Land Use adopted in Glasgow COP26 last autumn. Concerning CITES, trade in timber and other forest products from nearly a thousand trees species are now regulated under the Convention. Additionally, the ecosystem level of contributions that CITES can make is also reflected by the preamble to the Convention.
- The CITES Secretariat joined the UN Collaborative Partnership on Forests in 2018, in addition to partnerships with the International Tropical Timber Association (ITTO) and FAO on a CITES tree species program and the UN-REDD initiative (United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) on Sustainable Forest Trade in the Lower Mekong Area.
- The Secretariat considers this an opportune moment to consolidate the Convention’s work on forests and intends to propose a Resolution to the upcoming COP in November to that effect. The views of a Standing Committee on this resolution will be sought after at this upcoming meeting in Lyon. This resolution would have an operative part, which would require the Secretariat to publish a compendium of activities in resolutions and decisions that are relevant to forests and CITES-listed species dependent on them. To do so, after each COP, the Resolution would seek to ensure that the Secretariat steps up its collaboration with the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management, other organizations and networks with substantial programs on forests.
- The Resolution aims to boost CITES fundraising actions related to forests through a more coherent and integrated approach. Consequently, the objective is to raise the visibility of CITES input to the conservation and sustainable use of forest species. Overall, this Resolution would consolidate CITES’ work on forest and help drive it forward. At the upcoming meeting in Lyon, the Standing Committee will be asked for support at this Resolution.
Role of CITES in Reducing the Risk of Futures Zoonotic Diseases
- COVID-19 is caused by a kind of Coronavirus occurring naturally in wild animals, particularly in bats. Other Coronaviruses previously spread to humans bringing diseases, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The precise origins of the virus that caused COVID- 19 is still under debate and there is no certain answer to this. However, zoonotic diseases are very common, and this virus may have spread from wild animals to humans. International wildlife trade might be one circumstance where such transmission from wild animals to humans could occur, and the emergence, spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus have led the Standing Committee to review the current contribution CITES is making to identify and mitigate zoonotic disease risks, and to identify opportunities and constraints in relation to future CITES contributions in this regard. The Standing Committee set up a Working Group to look into these questions.
- This Working Group will raise several recommendations they came up with at the meeting in Lyon. Firstly, a proposal for a small change to existing CITES Resolutions that would allow the issue of measures to mitigate risks to animal and human health to be incorporated into existing CITES guidelines on the transport of animals. Secondly, a proposal for a suite of further work in some draft decisions, potentially to be proposed to the upcoming COP in November. Broadly, this further work would involve a review of measures already being taken by parties to mitigate the effects of zoonotic disease in wildlife trade, and the decisions would propose a joint program of work between the CITES Secretariat and the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE), and a review of similar cooperation with the other bodies, such as the World Health Organization and FAO. Finally, the Working Group suggests a possibility to develop a CITES resolution on advancing the One Health approach in relation to international wildlife trade. However, this is the beginning of the dialogue on this matter between the CITES parties and we are expecting a working group to be formed in Lyon to debate these issues further.
- Ensuring the biological sustainability of international trade being allowed under CITES is essential for the effective implementation of CITES and for the credibility of the Convention. This is primarily a task for the scientific authorities, which are established in each exporting party. But the CITES Scientific Committees, the Animals Committee, and the Plants Committee are the ones checking the sustainability of it. These entities are instructed to regularly review all trade being reported by CITES parties and to flag up, which might be unsustainable. The Animals and Plants committees proposed recommendations for remedial action to put the trade back on a sustainable footing where this is not the case, while the Standing Committee is charged with making sure that these remedial actions are acted on by the affected parties. This is called the Review of Significant Trade. At the upcoming Standing Committee Meeting, the Committee will be looking at 24 cases under this review. What often happens is that some parties bring the trade back into line with the Committee’s recommendations and CITES requirements, while other times there is more work to be done. That is the case of Algeria, Cameroon, Congo, DRC, Ghana, India, Indonesia. Mali, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname and Tunisia. If all else fails during this Review, sometimes the Standing Committee finds it necessary to recommend that all parties suspend trade in certain species from certain countries, due to the unsustainability of trade and remedial measures that have not been put in place. Currently, 46 trade suspensions recommendations of this kind are in existence. During the upcoming Meeting, the Standing Committee will be reviewing some of the more long-standing ones of these to see if any progress has been made.
The Review of Trade in Animal Specimens Reported as Produced in Captivity.
- Over the years, the proportion of reported trade in investments of CITES-listed species taken from the wild has declined, while the proportion being bred in captivity continues increasing. Today, over half of all reported commercial trade in CITES animal species involves specimens that were not taken from the wild. Trading specimens that are bred in captivity is not subject to strict control as for those that are taken from the wild. The term “bred in captivity” has been carefully defined by CITES parties. A margin of doubt exists on whether such trade being allowed really concerns specimens that have been bred in captivity, thus this review is taking place. The Review of Significant Trade is led by the Animals Committee. The Standing Committee’s duty is then to ensure that necessary corrections to trading practices are implemented if problems are identified in order to bring the trade into line with CITES rules. At the upcoming Meeting in Lyon, 15 cases will be reviewed by the Standing Committee. It appears that Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Mali, Togo and Vietnam work to bring some of the trade into line with requirements is necessary.
Sofie H. FLENSBORG | Chief Ad Interim, Outreach and Projects Unit, CITES
- Addressing two issues on the agenda of the Standing Committee: 1) Capacity Building, and 2) the Sponsored Delegates Project. At COP18, in Geneva in 2019, the Conference decided it was time to reconsider the approach to Capacity Building under the Convention, not least because the Resolution on technical cooperation had been around without any revisions since COP3 in 1981. The COP mandated the Standing Committee to review the Resolution with a view to Incorporating Capacity Building needs into the Resolution with inputs from parties to scientific bodies and the Secretariat and provide its recommendations to the conference of the parties. At this upcoming meeting, the Standing Committee will be, considering the report of a Working Group established following the call and chaired by New Zealand. This Working Group is proposing a completely revised Resolution on Capacity Building based on the CITES Strategic Vision 2021-30. This new proposed Resolution recognizes the need for a more integrated and coherent approach to Capacity Building and refers to the availability of technological tools and innovation supporting Capacity Building. If the Standing Committee agrees, this Resolution will then be forwarded to the COP for consideration for adoption at the meeting in November. The Standing Committee will also be invited to take note of the activities by the CITES Secretariat that has been taken place since COP18 with respect to Capacity Building.
- The Secretariat has initiated a complete overhaul of the CITES Virtual College, which has been long outstanding. It is expected that identification materials and other resources will be made available in a much more user-friendly and easily-accessible manner within the next few months, followed by new online courses of all pertinent aspects of the convention. This will be a huge improvement and we thank the donors that have provided funding for this. Lots of work and Capacity Building has been undertaken by the Secretariat and partners over the last couple of years to strengthen the implementation and enforcement of the Convention.
- With regards to the Sponsored Delegates Projects, which purpose is to ensure that two participants of each developing country party will be able to take part in the Conference of the Parties in November through a fundraising campaign. This was launched on 1 October 2021 with the aim of raising 1Million US dollars. Today, almost 300 thousand dollars have been secured and pledged, but additional funding will be required to ensure that all parties can be represented in Panama with at least two representatives. Applications for support from the project must be sent to the Secretariat by 30 April 2022.
- There is a comment from the Japanese Ministry of foreign affairs mentioning that the documents have not been uploaded. We are very close to uploading all documents, some are still being translated. We are uploading the documents as soon as we can. We are in the process of finalizing translations for a number of documents, but we are almost there in terms of making sure that all the documents are available for consideration by the parties.
Ivonne Higuero | Closing Remarks
- I think that the briefing was quite successful and we were able to give a really good overview of the subjects and matters that will be discussed during the next Standing Committee in Lyon. Again, many things to France for their wonderful hosting of the meeting. We are very much looking forward to seeing everyone in person again, it has been some time. We will, of course, follow all the necessary sanitary measures to ensure that we will have a safe meeting. We look forward to seeing those of you who are online and who can travel to Lyon to be with us there.
- Just a few words in closing to remind parties to register as soon as possible and at least 7 days prior to the meeting, and that is the date of 28 February. Representatives of the missions are welcome if attending from capitals turns out to be challenging, we know that there are a few cases like this.
- The deadline has already passed in early February for any observer organizations to register.
- The Secretary will also have regional online information-sharing sessions during this week and representatives of the missions are welcome to join them. Let us know if you are interested and we can send you the details.
- Today, or tomorrow at midnight our time in Geneva and 2 am for Nairobi, we have the briefing for Oceania, and we will have other sessions during this week.
- Finally, the reminder about World Wildlife Day, which is on 3 March under the theme “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration”. As, you know, well know ecosystem restoration is essential in delivering Nature-based Solutions to address all the three planetary crises, including biodiversity loss through species recovery, increasing ecosystem, resilience, and supporting ecosystem services. Please join us next week Thursday at 2 pm for the online event. You can check out our website for more information, including the agenda.
- Excellencies, representatives of governments and members of civil society, thank you so much for your time and interest. We remain of course, available for any further questions or if you want more details of what has been presented today, we look forward to constructive discussions at the upcoming meeting and wish you a great rest of your day wherever you are.
In addition to the live WebEx and Facebook transmissions, the video i availasble on this webpage.
- CITES SC74 Agenda and Documents
- France and the Metropolis of Lyon reveal the logo for the 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) | CITES | 28 January 2022
- France to host 74th meeting of the Standing Committee of CITES in Lyon | CITES | 16 December 2021