Policy Conventions & Agreements - GlobalProtection for wildlife & habitats is preserved in global agreements
This week, governments from around the world should have come together to discuss how to ensure agreements to protect species threatened by international trade are properly implemented. IFAW would have been there, alongside governments at the 73rd meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to advocate for stronger compliance and enforcement of CITES rules. However that meeting, like many others, has been postponed due to the pandemic, likely until late next year.
While such meetings are important for holding governments to account for their commitment to implement the protections they have given threatened species, work can and must take place without them. That is why IFAW is continuing its longstanding commitment to support governments in implementing the protections for animal species covered by CITES measures.
As previously outlined, IFAW is working with governments around the world to ensure management for shark and ray species listed under CITES is in place, including the 18 additional species listed at the last CITES Conference, in August 2019. This is a critical effort to raise the priority of conservation measures for the world’s most endangered sharks and rays.
Governments across the world also committed to new measures to tackle wildlife crime linked to the internet at the last CITES Conference. These steps include appointing national focal points on wildlife cybercrime, establishing national monitoring programs, and engaging with online platforms to increase awareness regarding policies related to wildlife. IFAW has continued to support these efforts and welcome additional members, such as Poshmark, Leboncoin and DeineTierwelt to a coalition of both public and private organizations committed to ending the illegal sale of wildlife online. Additionally, IFAW’s motion submitted to the IUCN World Conservation Congress to combat the sale of illegal wildlife products online will be voted on by IUCN members in October. It aims to strengthen the commitments of CITES Parties made last year and provide further resources to governments seeking to tackle this growing threat.
Working to end the ivory trade
Efforts to clamp down on the ivory trade remain underway, as governments at CITES CoP18 reiterated the call to close domestic ivory markets. Countries with significant ivory markets still open, such as the EU and Japan, were asked to report to CITES on what further measures they plan to take. While that reporting is now delayed, IFAW continues to work with EU Member States to shut down the domestic ivory trade, as our research has shown high levels of online ivory sales in the EU with questionable and potentially illegal sourcing. While the EU has expressed its willingness to close its domestic ivory markets, regulatory action has been dragging for the past three years, despite widespread public support. Progressing this work remains a priority for IFAW, with or without meetings of the Standing Committee going ahead.
Protecting jaguars from illegal trade
Through our partnership with IUCN Netherlands, we developed customized and targeted trainings, to provide law enforcement and customs officials from Guyana with tools to identify jaguar teeth, skins, and items such as jaguar paste that may not initially look to be a product from an endangered species. This adds to their efforts to stop the poaching of jaguars and enforce the CITES Appendix I listing that prohibits the international trade in jaguar parts. We are in conversations with authorities from Suriname to do the same, and our goal is to expand to another key country in the region to tackle this illegal trade.
Looking ahead for future wildlife protections
IFAW has also used the past few months to assess previous training workshops and consult law enforcement on any remaining gaps in their trainings, to identify ways to better prepare officers in the future.
The conservation ramifications of cancelled or postponed Convention meetings, in a year previously thought to be a potential turning point for biodiversity efforts worldwide, will likely not be known for some time. However, IFAW’s commitment to support governments in effectively implementing CITES decisions and rules designed to protect endangered species continues, whether these meetings happen or not.
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