Opening remarks at the opening ceremony of CoP18

Geneva, Switzerland, 17 August 2019

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today at this important gathering, the 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP) to CITES.
First, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the people of Sri Lanka and to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. We mourn the loss and will honor the victims, as we recommit to fight the scourge of terror in all its forms. We also express our deep appreciation to Sri Lanka for its enormous commitment to CITES as it prepared for hosting the 18th CoP.
On the occasion of the opening of this CoP, I also want to recall, and celebrate the life of Edna Molewa, who was the Chair of CoP17, which we held in Johannesburg. We lost Edna tragically and much too soon. Edna was a giant in the environmental world. She is deeply missed.
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It is an honor to speak alongside these impressive women and men and to welcome you to Geneva and the 18th meeting of the Conference of the Parties

I’d like to take a moment to  acknowledge the support of Switzerland in the re-scheduling of this meeting after the tragic events the occurred in Sri Lanka.  I also express my deep gratitude to Sri Lanka for the commitment they have shown CITES. My thoughts remain with those who have lost friends and family on that terrible day. 

We come together here in Switzerland, perhaps not exactly as planned but with the same spirit of taking conservation action in support of wildlife and sustainable wildlife trade.  And we come together at a unique time in the consideration of nature conservation globally, as so eloquently identified by Ms. Inger Anderson. 

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Buenos días a todos. Es un gran placer para mi darles la bienvenida a Ginebra para la décimo octava reunión de las conferencia de las partes de la convención internacional de especies amenazadas de fauna y flora silvestres.

May I once again express our sadness over the tragic events in Sri Lanka last April and the losses and impacts suffered by the Sri Lankan people because of this tragedy. We truly wished we could have met as planned earlier this year in Colombo. We thank the Secretariat in Colombo for all their efforts in the early preparations for CoP18. I kindly ask you all to stand for a minute of silence.

Thank you. May I ask the Sri Lankan delegation to take the floor for a brief intervention they have asked to make.

Thank you Sri Lanka.

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