Game Skins: CITES: Navigating the complex non-trade aspects of a trade convention
Pretoria, Gauteng, SA – At the time of writing last week, the Sustainable Use Coalition (SUCo-SA) team was in Geneva, Switzerland, to attend the 77th CITES Standing Committee (SC 77) from 06-10 November.
The Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the CITES Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention. It coordinates and oversees the work of other committees and working groups, and drafts resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties (COP). SC 77 is attended by 99 Parties (countries), with 717 delegates in total registered. There are 77 agenda items, comprising 2500 pages to work through. The next COP will be in 2025.
To date the bulk of the work and expenses is incurred by SUCo-SA and its members – NGOs and trade associations within the wildlife sector – consisting mostly of hunting, taxidermy, and game ranchers’ associations. However, the influence and effects of CITES decisions have an impact on many sectors. Annually, international wildlife trade is estimated to be worth billions of dollars and include hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens. The trade is diverse, ranging from live animals, fish, and plants to a vast array of wildlife products derived from them, including food products, exotic leather goods, wooden musical instruments, timber, tourist curios and medicines.
Much emphasis is being placed by CITES on control of the illegal trade, often to the detriment of the legal trade and other commercial activities. SUCo-SA used the opportunity to point out that CITES is a trade convention, and that involvement in trade or sustainable use, is not detrimental to conservation.
As we start to prepare for COP 2025, SUCo-SA will reach out to more associations from other sectors to compile research, join resources and obtain funding.