Secretary-General's Speech to the UNEP Governing Council
23 February 2005
Ladies and gentlemen,
and cooperation cannot exist without a continuous exchange of
information and a high degree of transparency regarding what goes
on in our different yet common areas of activity.
I am therefore grateful for this opportunity to share some information
with you about a number of major developments in the context of
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). They mainly concern the expanding
role of the Convention in the broader area of nature conservation
and the non-detrimental exploitation of wild animals and plants.
You will all be aware of the very successful meeting of the Conference
of the Parties to CITES that was held in Bangkok in October last
Apart from the many strictly wildlife-trade-related issues, which
of course formed a major part of the discussions and results,
it is significant for the development of the Convention that the
Parties also discussed the role of CITES in wider issues, such
as access to genetic resources and benefit sharing and sustainable
use of biodiversity.
This has clearly led to much broader opportunities for synergies
with other Conventions as well as with UNEP activities in the
area of nature conservation. For example, the Addis Ababa principles
and guidelines for the sustainable use of biodiversity, adopted
at CoP7 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, were not only
welcomed by CITES Parties at CoP13 but also recommended for use
by Parties in making scientific decisions on wildlife trade.
An important decision was taken on the further development of
and reporting on a joint work programme with the Convention on
Migratory Species, particularly on a number of species that are
protected under both Conventions, such as the saiga, the snow
leopard, Central African elephant populations, marine turtles,
whales and sturgeons.
The UNEP and UNESCO-led Great Apes Survival Project, initiated
at the WSSD, found strong support in a CITES Resolution recommending
inter alia that its Parties adopt and implement comprehensive
legislation to protect great apes and to prohibit all international
in them as well as national trade for primarily commercial purposes.
Other decisions that will involve close cooperation with other
conventions, as well as with UNEP and IUCN, concern the issue
of alien invasive species and that of bushmeat.
It is further very encouraging to see that other large international
bodies are now cooperating very actively with CITES at the practical
level, for example the ITTO on tropical woods (ramin and mahogany)
and the FAO on sturgeon harvesting and the trade in caviar. This
relatively new involvement of CITES in trade in economically important
natural resources shows that the earlier reservations about the
role CITES should play in the areas of timber and fisheries have
to a large extent disappeared. This is no doubt due to the fact
that, in its 30-years of existence, CITES has become a multilateral
legal instrument with widespread support, not least from its 167
Parties and the NGO community. CITES further has a unique and
strong track record of delivering changes based on a robust enforcement
and compliance regime, which includes trade measures, such as
suspensions of trade with Parties after unsuccessful attempts
to assist in removing causes of illegal trade, non-compliance
Mr Chairman, the CITES Secretariat will continue and step up
its efforts to increase the level of cooperation not only with
other conventions but also with relevant divisions of UNEP on
matters of great importance to us all, such as capacity building,
compliance and enforcement, economic instruments and economic
incentives. The latter issue has by the way led to important collaboration
between CITES and UNCTAD's Biotrade Initiative, for which I am
grateful to my colleagues in UNCTAD.
The CITES Conference of the Parties earlier approved a suggestion
from the Secretariat to explore, with the Executive Director of
UNEP, ways to involve UNEP's regional offices and regional seas
conventions' secretariats in regional activities related to, inter
alia, capacity building in the area of wildlife trade and biodiversity
issues in general. Talks on this are ongoing.
Ladies and gentlemen, with the help of UNEP and in close collaboration
with other Conventions and organizations, CITES can and will deliver,
but greater consideration should be given urgently by our common
constituency to the insufficient - and in the case of CITES even
decreasing - level of funding for the ever increasing task we
are expected to fulfil. If CITES and other biodiversity-related
conventions are to contribute effectively to achieving a significant
reduction of biodiversity loss by 2010, it will not be sufficient
for the Parties to conventions and their secretariats to find
and create common ground for action and joint working programmes,
which of course we will continue to do energetically. Equally
important, if not more important, is that more financial resources
need to be mobilized to actually carry out such actions and programmes.
I am aware that this plea is a rather old song but this meeting
is one of the best places to sing it and I hope I did not sing
out of tune.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.