Mar 3, 2013 ... Remarks by IUCN Director-General Julia Marton-Lefèvre at the 40th. Anniversary
of .... Once again, I wish CITES a very happy 40th Birthday.
Remarks by IUCN Director-General Julia Marton-Lefèvre at the 40th Anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 3 March 2013, Bangkok, Thailand
Your Excellency Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the Kingdom of Thailand; CITES Secretary-General, Mr. John Scanlon; UNEP Executive Director, Mr, Achim Steiner; Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends.
It is my great please to address you on this 40th anniversary of CITES in my capacity as Director General of IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature. IUCN is particularly honoured to be part of this special occasion as one of the Convention's proud parents. While CITES turns 40 today, established as a Convention in 1973, its story began at least a decade earlier at the IUCN General Assembly held in Nairobi in 1963. At that conference, IUCN Members passed a recommendation urging countries to establish "an international convention on regulations of export, transit and import of rare and threatened wildlife species or their skins or trophies". A draft Convention on Trade in Threatened Species of Wildlife was prepared a year later by the IUCN Committee on Law. Once the Convention came into being in Washington, D.C., IUCN provided the Secretariat for CITES during the first crucial decade of its development. We have also been supporting the work of CITES and its Parties through TRAFFIC International, our joint programme with WWF, which was originally established in 1976 as an SSC Specialist Group and leads on wildlife trade monitoring work. A number of our other Specialist Groups in the Species Survival Commission, (many of which are represented at this meeting), provide world-class science on the impacts of trade on species populations. For example, the criteria for listing species on the CITES Appendices have their foundation in the criteria used for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – as a 1
result of work that IUCN did for CITES in 1992-1994. (Our Red List, by the way, turns 50 this year). Together with TRAFFIC, we have been producing — since 1987 — the Analyses of the Proposals to Amend the Appendices, an independent and objective review of the proposals that are submitted by Parties to add, shift or remove species from the CITES Appendices. This project is most generously funded by Parties to CITES for each CoP meeting. We have also helped to clarify procedures for the Non Detriment Findings that countries are required to make under the Convention in order to be able to internationally trade CITES-listed species. Furthermore, for as long as elephants have been on the CITES agenda, our IUCN SSC African Elephant Specialist Group has been closely involved in the programme on monitoring the illegal killing of elephants and the elephant trade information system, from their inception to rollout. It is hard to imagine that only 40-odd years ago, before CITES was born, there were no controls whatsoever in place for international trade in wildlife. You may remember that: • • • •
at the peak of ivory trade, up to 1,000 tons of ivory were sent to Europe alone; between 500 and 1,000 snow leopard skins were traded a year well into the 1920s; as recently as the early 1970s, over two million crocodile skins obtained from the wild were traded each year; and anyone could bring an exotic pet - a macaw, a boa or a chimpanzee - from a faraway country back home without any regulations.
CITES was definitely a treaty that could not have come any day sooner! Today, we stand here 40 years older — and, hopefully, 40 years wiser. We recognize that the global demand for wildlife shows no sign of abating, and that trade will continue to be a determining factor for the survival of species in the wild. We have seen that targeted conservation action, backed by political will, can turn the tide of extinction for species like the Tiger in India, thanks to "Project Tiger" launched in 1972 by the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, or thanks to South Africa's leadership role in the recovery of the southern white rhino. We have also learned that sustainable wildlife trade can only work when communities who are the main custodians of these resources directly benefit from conservation efforts. Indeed we have learned that sustainable use can underpin some of the greatest successes in conservation. Our Crocodile Specialist Group has been intimately involved in the development of ranching programmes and export quotas for crocodilians under the CITES umbrella, and many of these have met with significant success. Ultimately, we have recognized that, if managed sustainably, wildlife can be an engine for development in some of the world’s poorest nations, which derive much of their GDP from 2
natural capital, and that nature — our support system on this planet — can offer solutions to the broader challenges of economic and social development. But we have also learned — the hard way — that we cannot rest on our laurels. The ongoing elephant and rhino poaching crisis is a stark reminder that conservation gains of the past decades can be reversed virtually overnight. In today's globalized world, the challenge of securing the survival of species in the wild, and ensuring legal and sustainable international wildlife trade, is perhaps even greater than it was 40 years ago. This is why CITES is needed more than ever today. And this is why IUCN will continue to support the work of this visionary Convention through our science and expertise, our on-theground presence, and through our policy influencing efforts. Birthdays are also occasions that call for presents, and I am delighted to announce that IUCN will gift the CITES Secretariat the historic archives of the negotiations of the Convention, which up until now have been cared for by our Environmental Law Center, and in particular its cofounders Wolfgang and Françoise Burhenne. I hope these records will contribute in recognizing the proud history of the Convention as it continues to write its new chapters. Once again, I wish CITES a very happy 40th Birthday. Thank you.