CITES Secretariat welcomes GEF funding to fight illegal trade in wildlife

Updated on 12 January 2021

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CITES Secretariat welcomes GEF funding to fight illegal trade in wildlife

Geneva, 4 June 2015 – The 48th Council meeting of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today the funding of a new global wildlife programme - the Global Partnership on Wildlife Conservation and Crime Prevention for Sustainable Development. This new programme, to be funded by GEF and partner organizations, draws upon existing programmes and is aimed at promoting wildlife conservation, wildlife crime prevention and sustainable development in order to reduce the impacts of poaching and illegal trade on protected species.

CITES Secretary-General John E. Scanlon speaking at the
41st meeting of the GEF Council in 2011

Commenting this new GEF funding, the CITES Secretary-General, Mr John E. Scanlon stated that: “In 2011, CITES drew to the attention of the GEF Council the immediate threats posed by illegal trade in wildlife and asked the GEF to make funding available to combat this illegal trade. Today, we warmly welcome the GEF Council’s approval of new funding to reduce the impacts of poaching and illegal trade on protected species. The nature and scale of the threats posed by wildlife crime are increasingly being recognized by financing agencies and other donors. Their injection of much needed funding to combat these highly destructive crimes is critical.” 

During the first ever intervention made by CITES to the GEF council in 2011, the CITES Secretariat drew to the attention of the GEF Council the immediate threats posed by  the overexploitation of biodiversity through illegal and unsustainable international trade in wildlife and of the need for the GEF to direct funding towards tackling it. Subsequently, the importance of Parties gaining access to GEF funding to combat illegal trade in wildlife was highlighted at the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP16, Bangkok, March 2013), following which CITES priorities were relayed directly to the GEF CEO. 

“CITES will now seek to ensure the final programme aligns with the CITES legal framework and support countries in accessing this new funding to enhance delivery of their front-line priority actions, and in particular to implement their commitments under CITES, such as through National Ivory Action Plans, and to support initiatives of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), such as the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analyitic Toolkit”, added Scanlon. 

CITES sets the agreed multilateral measures to regulate international wildlife trade and CITES decisions and compliance processes underpin the global effort to combat illegal trade in wildlife trade. CITES is recognised as the principal international instrument for ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

It is now widely recognized that illegal trade in wildlife is a serious transnational organized crime largely driven by the high financial profits generated by such trade. The fight against these crimes needs access to financial support at a level that is commensurate with the threat presented by wildlife crime, especially to support those people combatting such crimeson the front lines and in local communities. 

The new global wildlife funding will support the implementation and enforcement of CITES through strengthening legislation and policy, improving information exchange between CITES Parties, enabling greater interagency information sharing among enforcement officers,  enhancing the capacity of officers tasked with enforcing national legislation and  strengthening efforts to reduce the supply of and demand for illegal wildlife products.  It will also facilitate a number of decisions adopted at CITES CoP16 and various species-specific or other projects at national level, such as the CITES National Legislation Project.

The CITES Secretariat has been invited to serve as a member of the Steering Committee of the new global funding initiative.

Note to editors: For more information, contact Liu Yuan at +41 22 917 8130 or [email protected].



With 181 Member States, CITES remains one of the world's most powerful tools for biodiversity conservation through the regulation of trade in wild fauna and flora. Thousands of species are internationally traded and used by people in their daily lives for food, housing, health care, ecotourism, cosmetics or fashion.

CITES regulates international trade in over 35,000 species of plants and animals, including their products and derivatives, ensuring their survival in the wild with benefits for the livelihoods of local people and the global environment. The CITES permit system seeks to ensure that international trade in listed species is sustainable, legal and traceable.

CITES was signed in Washington D.C. on 3 March 1973.

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