News | Mar 2023
Today marks World Wildlife Day, the UN’s International day to celebrate the life with which we share our planet and the contribution that it makes to our lives and well-being.
This year’s theme is “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation” and looks to shine a light on the importance of collaborative action – from that of intergovernmental agreements to multi-stakeholder initiatives and national and local projects securing a future for wildlife.
The biodiversity and climate crises are global challenges, and so global partnerships and networks across all sectors are crucial to tackle them.UNEP-WCMC Director Neville Ash
World Wildlife Day this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the key international agreement for regulating international trade in wild plants and animals.
For 50 years, CITES has provided a bridge between trade, conservation and sustainable use, with Parties to the Convention working with the shared goal of ensuring that trade does not threaten the survival of wild species. Over-exploitation of the world’s wild plants and animals remains a major driver of the loss and decline of biodiversity, and the top cause of extinctions for marine species. As trade supply chains have become more complex over the decades, CITES is more relevant than ever to foster international cooperation on this global challenge.
There are now almost 40,000 species listed and therefore regulated under the Convention, ranging from elephants, crocodiles and tigers, to corals, caviar, orchids and high-value timbers. CITES also has teeth to drive action and enforcement. For example, export quotas can be put in place to help maintain trade at sustainable levels, and Parties can decide to suspend trade in listed species from certain countries if trade is not sustainable.
UNEP-WCMC counts CITES among our core partners, with which we have worked for over 40 years. Our wildlife trade experts support the CITES Secretariat and Parties with a host of online tools and scientific support, ranging from the management and maintenance of key datasets – including the CITES Trade Database (which collects and collates data on the global wildlife trade), Species+, and the CITES Checklist – to supporting key implementation processes under the Convention such as the Review of Significant Trade. These are essential tools for governments and officials dealing with the enforcement and decision-making of international trade in wild species. Alongside data management and information, we also provide expert scientific analysis, insights and CITES implementation support.
UNEP-WCMC contributed to several new reports launched at the latest World Wildlife Conference, CITES CoP19, which took place in November 2022 in Panama. These includedthe first-ever World Wildlife Trade Report, which provides an overview of the international trade in CITES-listed plants and animals over the past decade; a report on the zoonotic potential of international trade in CITES-listed species; and an assessment of trade, conservation and management of marine ornamental fish. During the conference, our team showcased CITES Wildlife TradeView (which visualises CITES trade data) and also launched the Species+ app, which makes the Species+ database more easily accessible, particularly for customs officials at borders.
The new Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework recognizes that combatting overexploitation and ensuring that the use and trade in wildlife is sustainable is key to halting and reversing biodiversity loss and CITES and its Parties will be critical to delivering on these ambitions. UNEP-WCMC looks forward to continuing to strengthen our long-standing collaboration with CITES and the wider conservation community in order to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and ensure that all international wildlife trade is legal, safe and sustainable.