Sixty-second meeting of the Standing Committee

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Geneva (Switzerland), 23-27 July 2012

Opening Remarks by Mr John E. Scanlon, Secretary-General

Good morning and I join with the Chair in extending a very warm welcome to our Standing Committee members and alternates, together with Observers from CITES Parties, IGOs and NGOs.

Mr John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General

To those distinguished participants who are observing the month of fasting, I wish to say Ramadan Kareem and wish you a happy and blessed month.

We have a full agenda, which calls upon the Committee to find ways forward with some very challenging issues, and we meet at a time when the illegal killing and illegal trade in African elephants and rhinoceros have reached the highest levels in over a decade.

Over the next five days, the Committee will consider issues as diverse as from “introduction from the sea” to snake trade and conservation. There is clearly an intense interest in the Agenda, which is reflected in the fact that we have 50 registered observer organizations. I am told that this is a record for a meeting of the Standing Committee.

The issues to be confronted, be they related to enforcement, compliance, science, legislation, or financing, are immense. They cannot be tackled alone and require robust partnerships and strong political and operational support. And we are collectively enhancing national implementation of CITES through demonstrating its relevance to related processes, goals and targets.

Over the past 12 months we have seen CITES attract significant high-level political attention, most significantly through the recognition of the importance of CITES through paragraph 203 of the outcome document from Rio+20, The Future We Want. This is the first time that such a conference has recognized the economic, social and environmental impacts of illicit trafficking in wildlife, and the need to tackle both supply and demand.

We were invited to make interventions before the Governing Council of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the UNEP Governing Council, and the United States of America Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which were all a first for CITES, and wildlife crime has been referred to both by the UN Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UNODC before the UN Security Council.

We have been able to scale up our efforts in enforcement, science, legislation and financing over the past 12 months by working with our International Consortium on Combatting Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) partners as well as the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), FAO, UNEP, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), IUCN and many others.

Let me share a few examples - with a focus on enforcement and financing. The ICCWC is no longer just a Letter of Agreement dated November, 2010. It is a fully functioning consortium that has delivered training for enforcement officers in controlled deliveries, brought together the Customs and police officials across all 13 tiger range States, and mobilized its vast networks in response to the massacre of elephants in Northern Cameroon earlier this year.

And this week ICCWC will launch the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytical Toolkit, when we will also announce the allocation of additional funding for the Consortium, full details of which will be released on Tuesday.

We have also released on the CITES Virtual College specifically tailored training modules for enforcement officers, and for Customs officials, as well as an information module for prosecutors and the judiciary, which are being used extensively worldwide.

Moving to financing, we have helped generate about USD 12 million for the Convention over the past 12 months through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the ITTO-CITES project, support for the ICCWC - to be announced this week, and through the African Elephant Fund (AEF), with many more possibilities in the pipeline. This amount is double our annual budget - and none of this money will come to the Secretariat. It is all being invested through Parties or key implementing agencies in support of enhanced national implementation.

We believe we should use the resources provided to us by the Parties to help generate resources for the Convention, not just for the Secretariat. However, this relies upon Parties investing sufficient resources in their Secretariat to enable us to fulfill our functions, which will be a key item on this week’s agenda.

Getting a CITES-related project through the GEF is no longer an aspiration, but a reality, with the GEF Council approving a project to strengthen law enforcement capacity in South Africa's protected area system through forensic-based technologies focused on the rhinoceros.

This project was initiated by the CITES Secretariat, working with South Africa, the GEF Secretariat, and later UNEP, utilizing funds provided to us by Norway. It has opened the door for others to pursue like projects - and whether or not CITES should request the GEF to serve as a financial mechanism for the Convention is before you this week.

And I am delighted to be able to announce today that we have been formally advised by the Chinese Management Authority that they will be contributing USD 200,000 towards the AEF, making it the largest single contributor to the Fund, which has now attracted close to USD 600,000.

We are also working with the private sector to mobilize further resources to support national implementation of the Convention from private and philanthropic sources. All of this effort is about supporting our Parties with national implementation.

And the essential work of our Committees and Parties in addressing compliance issues, something that distinguishes CITES from the other biodiversity-related Conventions, reinforces the need to scale-up financing, especial for capacity-building efforts.

You will review the status of legislation and national reporting, and while good progress has been made there remain six and seven States respectively that may be affected by trade suspensions.

You will also consider the sustainability of certain species in trade through the Review of Significant Trade (RST) agenda item. This item addresses 67 cases across 28 countries, with recommendations to continue existing trade suspensions affecting 12 states, and new recommendations to suspend trade in species affecting 7 states, including 3 that are already subject to suspensions.

At the same time, there have been 35 positive results through the process. While the use of trade suspensions as a last resort show the strength of the compliance mechanisms of the Convention they are also an indication of where we must place additional effort.

And your Secretariat continues to work very closely with CITES Parties, supporting them, upon request, with the necessary scientific, legislative and enforcement support they require, to address compliance issues and ensure that trade is legal, sustainable and traceable - with tangible benefits for the global environment and for local people.

The excellent preparations for this meeting have been possible due to the hard work and commitment of our Science Committees, various Working Groups and workshops, and the Chair has expressed the gratitude we feel towards all who were involved. Please also allow me to also personally thank your small, yet extremely dedicated and hard working, Secretariat team - as well as our tireless Chair who attended all of the meetings of our Science Committees in the lead up to this meeting.

And there have been some some changes in the Secretariat I would like to inform you of with the following new staff joining us since our last meeting:

- Ben Janse van Rensburg, Chief of Enforcement Support, from South Africa;
- Pia Jonsson, Enforcement Support Officer, from Sweden, and
- Elena Kvitsinskaia, Research Assistant, from the Russian Federation.

We have also secured the services of three gratis personnel:

- Liliane Garcia-Ferreira, a senior prosecutor on secondment from the Attorney-General of Sao Paulo, Brazil
- and we are advised that the post will be extended for a further 12 months;
- Kim Hyeon Jeong, an intern sponsored by the Korean Environment Cooperation; and
- David Prosser, sponsored by the City of Lausanne, Switzerland.

They have all done a great job for us.

And it gives me great pleasure to announce we have just appointed the new CITES Capacity-building Coordinator, Ms Haruko Okusu, from Japan. Haruko will join us in October.

As a result, there will soon be a full team on-board in your Secretariat ready and able to serve you as we prepare for the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties and our 40th Anniversary in just 222 days time.

We look forward to an eventful and successful meeting - and with that I will conclude my opening remarks and invite you to join with me in welcoming our new staff and gratis personnel to the secretariat.

Thank you.


See also:

Opening remarks from the Chair, Mr Øystein Størkersen.