Ensuring international wildlife trade is sustainable through continual digital innovation

Leave of the padauk tree against a blue sky

Today we celebrate World Wildlife Day – an annual event that brings the global community together to recognise how plants, animals and all aspects of biodiversity are crucial to humanity and a healthy planet.

This year’s theme is “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation” and invites us to examine and highlight how digital technologies are progressing wildlife conservation and sustainable development, as well as ensuring the sustainability of legal wildlife trade.

From action in the field to development and delivery of national policies and across international trade supply chains, there's never been a greater opportunity to deploy digital innovation for the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife.

As we celebrate World Wildlife Day this year, we have the opportunity to bring digital innovation across all of our efforts to tackle the nature crisis and to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity.”

UNEP-WCMC Director Neville Ash

The theme is especially relevant to our activities at UNEP-WCMC, as we work closely with the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – the international treaty that regulates international trade in at-risk wildlife – on a wide range of species research and digital support tools.     

UNEP-WCMC has been a key CITES partner since our creation more than 40 years ago, and for the past two decades we have worked with the Convention to develop and augment powerful digital tools to help conservationists understand patterns of wildlife trade and support countries to implement CITES regulations.

On behalf of the CITES Secretariat, we maintain the CITES Trade Database  – which is the definitive database on international trade in listed plants and animal species – and CITES Wildlife TradeView, an accessible online platform to help officials, policymakers and conservationists explore and visualise the trade information from the database. We also maintain the Checklist of CITES Species, which provides the official list of the over 40,000 CITES-listed animals and plants regulated through the Convention.

The Species+ website and mobile app – both designed and maintained by UNEP-WCMC – display up-to-date information on the locations, protections and restrictions attached to wildlife listed by both CITES and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The website and app can be accessed instantly by officers working on the front line of enforcing wildlife trade legislation.

Another major digital innovation led by UNEP-WCMC is a programming interface, which allows CITES Parties to feed the CITES Trade Database and Species+ to their own national systems, for automated updates on species listings and related information.

Today also sees the launch of the NDF Support Tool – created by UNEP-WCMC and the International Union for Conservation of Nature – which links together globally important databases on CITES information and endangered species, to help country authorities conduct the crucial sustainability assessments needed to justify trade in species.

We look forward to continuing to work with scientific, policy and technology partners to support CITES and the wider conservation community with the latest data and powerful digital tools, as we progress towards a world that connects people and planet for a sustainable future for all.

UNEP-WCMC Director Neville Ash
UNEP-WCMC's Director Neville Ash

Watch our director Neville Ash highlight the many robust digital tools and activities developed and monitored by UNEP-WCMC to support the CITES Convention, in this video.

Main image: AdobeStock_305577118

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