CITES Secretariat welcomes CPW statement urging a science-based approach to wildlife management in the context of COVID-19

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CITES Secretariat welcomes CPW statement urging a science-based approach to wildlife management in the context of COVID-19

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The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW) has released a joint statement calling for a pragmatic, factual and science-based approach to the wildlife management challenges that have arisen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In their statement, CPW partners, including the CITES Secretariat, put forward four guiding principles to steer decision-making towards actions that would work to reduce the risks of the rise and spread of new  zoonotic diseases, while also contributing to the conservation of species and ecosystems, and the preservation of the livelihoods of the diverse groups that rely on wildlife for their incomes and sustenance.

These principles can be summarized in the following points:

  • Recognize the importance of the use of wildlife for many communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), in policy responses.
  • Maintain and restore healthy and resilient ecosystems to reduce risks of zoonotic spillovers and future pandemics.
  • Persecution including killing of wild animals suspected of transmitting diseases will not address the causes of the emergence or spread of zoonotic diseases.
  • Regulate, manage and monitor harvesting, trade and use of wildlife to ensure it is safe, sustainable and legal.

CPW Statement layout finalAn early reaction to the spread of COVID-19 took the form of calls for various kinds of blanket bans on the trade, harvesting, consumption or other forms of use of wildlife and wildlife products, most notably the consumption and trade of wild meat at so-called wet markets.

However, the collective membership of the CPW argues that calls for blanket bans would fail to tackle the underlying causes of the spread of new zoonotic diseases, such as habitat encroachment and destruction by human activity or the impact of biodiversity loss on ecosystems’ abilities to resist disease and to provide essential services for all species.

Such responses could also prove counterproductive for millions of people whose livelihoods and food security rely directly on their access to and use of various species of wild fauna and flora.

Instead, the CPW statement seeks to encourage stakeholders to first act towards the effective enforcement of existing regulations on the use, consumption and harvesting of wildlife. The partnership also suggests that efforts to respond to the new challenges of the post-COVID-19 world should be grounded in fact, science and taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable groups, so that the deeper factors that affect the health of global ecosystems, as well as human health, are effectively and efficiently tackled.

CPW partners urge governments, organizations and other partners to acknowledge the significant role that Indigenous and local communities can play in establishing patterns for the sustainable use and conservation of wildlife through the traditional knowledge of their environments, making plain the need to meaningfully involve these groups in crafting future solutions to these challenges.

The statement also seeks to encourage an integrated approach that can contribute to restoring damaged ecosystems and preserving essential services that keep nature, including humans, safe from the spread of disease, while also ensuring the development of sustainable livelihoods for all those who live close to nature.

CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero said: "The pandemic has caused enormous global human and economic impacts and prompted strong calls for a new relationship with nature in order to reduce the risk of future zoonotic spillovers. This requires that policy decisions affecting the use, consumption and trade in wildlife species and other biodiversity-based resources be thoughtfully and carefully anchored in fact and science. The four guiding principles laid out by CPW partners offer policymakers a solid factual basis with which to steer their efforts towards an effective, realistic management of wildlife and biodiversity, in a way that ensures our relationship with nature is improved, sustainable and safe for people and planet."

The CPW comprises a group of international organizations that have mandates or programmes that revolve around sustainable use and conservation of wildlife resources.

Partners include the CITES Secretariat, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Food and Agriculture Administration of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC), the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity (IIFB), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), International Trade Centre (ITC), International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), and TRAFFIC – The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network.

The partnership was established in 2013, with the aim of establishing a platform for addressing wildlife management issues that require national and supra-national responses.

For more information please contact:

CITES Secretariat: Francisco Pérez, +41 22 917 1447, [email protected]