25th Meeting of the CITES Plants Committee: Opening Remarks by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

Updated on 28 June 2023


Opening Remarks at the 25th Meeting of the CITES Plants Committee by CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero

2 June 2021

First session of the 25th meeting of the CITES Plants Committee

Madame Chair of the Plants Committee,
Members of the Plants Committee,
Distinguished delegates and participants,
Dear colleagues and friends,

It is my honor to welcome you to the first online meeting of the Plants Committee. And this “first” also coincides with the celebration of the 25th anniversary.  Imagine - the first time that the Committee met was in November 1988 and had an attendance of 31 participants. Today we have 417 representatives of 75 Parties and 106 representatives of 54 organizations.

I extend a warm welcome to the new Chair of the Plants Committee, Ms Flore Koumba and the vice Chair, Ms Rosemarie Gnam, who were both confirmed in their functions through intersessional decision-making by the Plants Committee after CoP18.  At CoP18 we also had the pleasure to welcome new PC members for most of the Regions and they have been eager to bring their expertise to the benefit of CITES.

For the next days, you will be discussing the considerable mandates that the Parties have given to the Plants Committee in 2019. There is extensive documentation and many reports in front of you. The Plants Committee, the Parties, and the extended CITES family have been progressing as much as possible in the implementation of the flora tasks despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected us all and the postponement of this meeting. It is thanks to your commitment and passion for the conservation of wild flora that you have an agenda of over 40 items, which will contribute to provide the Parties with the best possible information and guidance so that CITES-listed plants are sustainably traded and conserved for generations to come.

In the agenda for PC25, the Plants Committee’s responsibilities and tasks have been grouped under strategic, implementation, and species-specific matters. The documentation of each agenda item reflects the active collaboration between PC members and the Secretariat since May 2020 to date.

Amongst the strategic matters, you will discuss relationships with CBD, IPBES and other organizations, and progress on ongoing and new initiatives relating to CITES trees and forests.

Concerning implementation matters, you will address among others the inclusion of African rosewood as an exceptional case under the review of significant trade process; progress in compliance cases for Malagasy rosewoods and palisanders; and progress on an ambitious initiative to update and develop guidance on non-detriment findings that are most relevant to Parties’ needs.

Nearly half of the PC25 agenda items fall under species-specific matters. You will focus on reviewing the way forward proposed by the chairs of the intersessional working groups on identification of timber, rosewoods, neotropical and African tree species, and medicinal and aromatic plants. The members of the Plants Committee who lead these working groups have carefully tailored the recommendations to facilitate decision-making at this meeting and pave the way towards the next Conference of the Parties.

In matters relating to CITES-driven science, I would like to highlight discussions relating to the first CITES Checklist on Dalbergia, on orchid Checklists, and new guidance on the interpretation of artificial propagation provisions. Other species-specific matters concern agarwood, frankincense, and annotations for orchids and rosewood tree species. I trust you have had a chance to get acquainted with the documentation, as well as with the revised recommendations contained in the Addendums of relevant items.

I warmly thank the donors that entrusted the Secretariat with the funds for the implementation of the relevant Decisions, as well as the excellent experts behind these reports.

I wish you fruitful discussions and, as always, the Secretariat is here to support you on this new online format.

Good luck and thank you!


Watch Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero's opening remarks and the full first session of the 25th meeting of the Plants Committee on this link.