CITES Standing Committee to take part in first-ever online meeting

CITES Standing Committee members, Party representatives and observer organizations will gather for the 73rd meeting of the Standing Committee, which will be held on May 5-7.

This is the first time a CITES governing body will convene formally in an online format. The meeting was originally planned for October 2020, in Geneva, Switzerland, but had to be postponed because of the COVID-related sanitary measures.

73rd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee

The proceedings will be broadcast live in English, Spanish and French and will be viewable by the general public on the CITES YouTube Channels at the following links, with daily meetings between 12h30 and 15h30 (CET) on Wednesday 5, Thursday 6 and Friday 7 May.

Standing Committee members and observers will review a selection of operational and policy matters affecting the implementation of the Convention. These include, among others, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Parties’ daily work to implement the Convention, the use of electronic permit systems to regulate CITES trade, and discussions on specific CITES species such as big cats, tortoises and turtles.

The Standing Committee Chair, Canada, in consultation with the Committee members and the Secretariat, have sought to ensure that the meeting remains accessible to all members and observers in order to bolster transparency and the legitimacy of discussions and their resulting decisions.

Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: “The pandemic has imposed significant logistical challenges on the continuity of international environmental governance.  The online meeting of the CITES Standing Committee shows the resilience and adaptability of Committee members, Party representatives and observer organizations. The resumption of major meetings in new formats is a strong signal that Parties are innovative and will take the necessary measures in order continue their important work of reinforcing and updating the Convention and its implementation.”

Despite the postponement of the 2020 meeting, progress has been made since the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties that took place in August 2019. The 15 intersessional working groups established after the last meeting of the Standing Committee (2019) have worked to prepare recommendations on a variety of subjects, such as electronic systems and information technology, guidance on the management of ivory stockpiles and rules of procedure for meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

New working groups were also established over the past year, tasked with looking at matters including the trade in sharks and rays and labeling systems for trade in caviar.

The Standing Committee steers the work and performance of the Convention in the periods between the meetings of the Conference of the Parties. This includes the provision of policy and operational guidance to the Secretariat concerning the implementation of the Convention and oversight of the Secretariat's budget. It also coordinates and oversees, where required, the work of other committees and working groups, carries out tasks given to it by the Conference of the Parties, and drafts resolutions for consideration by the Conference of the Parties at their next meeting.